by Aimee Levitt
A Fulton-based resource center for battered women has been ordered by the state to shut down all operations. This shouldn't be terribly difficult since the Battered Mother's Resource Fund (BMRF) never actually did anything anyway.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said in a news release that the BMRF, which is owned by Phillip Baney, solicited donations to help victims of domestic violence, but never actually implemented any of the programs it advertised, including community outreach seminars, a national database of shelters and other organizations that provided assistance to battered women and children, a Mother's Assistance Fund and a ranch for kids who had been harmed by domestic violence.
"Most heart wrenching is that BMRF may have prevented domestic violence victims from reaching out for legitimate assistance by claiming that most domestic violence shelters separate mothers from their children," Koster said in the press release. "This is not true and it is a dangerous statement that could keep a domestic violence victim from seeking assistance for fear of losing her children. Every domestic violence shelter in Missouri accepts children."
BMFR's crisis hotline was not a total fraud, though it did not operate 24 hours as advertised, and the toll-free number shared a telephone line with Baney's home phone and Internet connection. It's staffed sporadically by Baney, his wife and a neighbor, none of whom have any training or experience in helping domestic violence victims.
Koster ordered BMFR to shut down its website and stop soliciting donations immediately. Baney has until October 31 to dissolve BMFR as a corporate entity.