Missouri couple, ages 71 and 55, who ran ‘Circle of Hope’ religious boarding school face over 100 charges for ‘horrific, sexual, physical, and mental abuse’ of 16 minor female students after their daughter encouraged accusers to go public
School propietor 71-year-old Boyd Householder, is facing 79 felony and one misdemeanor charge, including several counts of statutory rape, statutory sodomy, and abuse and neglect of a child
Stephanie Householder, 55, is charged with 22 counts, most involving abuse or neglect of a childS
She is also accused of restraining students and allowing her husband to have continued contact with several girls after he physically assaulted themd
Husband and wife ran ‘Circle of Hope’ religious boarding school in Cedar County, Missouri
They face more than 100 charges for ‘horrific, sexual, physical, and mental abuse’ of 16 students after their estranged daughter encouraged accusers to go public
Couple’s daughter Amanda who attended the school exposed the alleged abuse on TikTok, which encouraged other victims to come forward
Former pupils have filed lawsuits against the couple alleging they were tied up, punched and whipped
Boyd and Stephanie Householder pled not guilty at their arraignment on Wednesday, and are scheduled back in court on March 17
The owners of a former Christian reform school for girls in southwest Missouri have been charged with more than 100 counts over alleged horrific sexual, emotional and physical abused of the students.
Boyd and Stephanie Householder, founded Circle of Hope Girls Ranch in Cedar County, Missouri in 2006 as a Christian reform school for wayward girls. Sixteen former residents of the Circle of Hope Girls Ranch in Cedar County say the couple frequently restrained them with handcuffs, whipped them with belts, taped their mouths shut and struck or punched them for minor offenses such as drinking from a spring or singing.
The chain of exposes kicked off with the couple’s daughter, Amanda Householder, who attended the school, posting Tiktok videos about the alleged abuse she and her peers suffered. Encouraged, more victims came forward.
Amanda’s dad, Boyd Householder, 71, is charged in 22 counts with having sexual contact, including sexual intercourse, with one girl who was younger than 17 at the time.
After the couple pled not guilty at an arraignment Wednesday afternoon, a bond hearing was scheduled for March 17.
Addressing a news Conference Wednesday Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said the victims also allege they were forced to shovel manure for hours on end, stand with their noses against a wall while handcuffed for days at a time, and were locked in rooms without beds or lights.
‘Today, my Office has filed a total of 102 criminal charges against Boyd and Stephanie Householder, proprietors of the now-defunct Circle of Hope Girls Ranch and Boarding School.
‘The charging documents allege extensive, and horrific, sexual, physical, and mental abuse perpetrated by the Householders,’ The AG said.
‘There are no words that I can say here today to describe the mixture of great sadness, horror, disgust and sympathy that I feel about these reports of cruel and almost unbelievable abuse and neglect.
‘We intend to do everything in the power of this office to get justice for these victims,’ Schmitt said.
Schmitt said Boyd Householder also told at least seven girls the ‘proper way’ to commit suicide, and he’s accused of forcing a girl to drink at least 220 ounces of water, run a mile until she vomited and then run again.
The Householders who were charged Tuesday, are being held in the Vernon County Jail.
Boyd Householder faces 79 felony and one misdemeanor charge, including several counts of statutory rape, statutory sodomy, and abuse and neglect of a child.
55-year-old Stephanie Householder faces 22 counts, most of which involve abuse or neglect of a child, but none involving sexual contact. She is also accused of restraining students and allowing her husband to have continued contact with several girls after he physically assaulted them.
“One victim detailed the sexual abuse she received from Boyd Householder,” Schmitt said at the news conference. “Beginning with inappropriate sexual comments, sexual touches, and progressing to oral sex and sexual intercourse.”
“With 16 victims so far, we believe this to be one of the most widespread cases of sexual, physical and mental abuse practiced against young girls in Missouri history,” Schmitt said.
He declined to say the ages of the victims who have come forward, describing them only as girls and young women. Circle of Hope closed in August after investigators removed about two dozen girls. Many of the girls were sent to the home from out-of-state.
The charges came after an investigation by law enforcement in Cedar County and elsewhere that started when former residents of the home made allegations against the Householders on social media. Subsequently, in mid-November Cedar County Prosecutor Ty Gaither asked Schmitt’s office to help with the investigation.
The Householders told The Kansas City Star in September that the allegations were lies prompted by their estranged daughter and girls who have not been successful in life after leaving the ranch: ‘They’re angry and they’re bitter, and they want to blame somebody,’ said Stephanie Householder.
‘They feel like they’re victims, and they just want to take their anger out on somebody,’ the Householders said.
The couple’s estranged daughter, Amanda Householder, who claims she was kicked out of the home when she was 17 following disagreements with her parents, led efforts to have Circle of Hope shut down.
Amanda says she ‘100 per cent’ believes the allegations against her parents, although he announcement of the charges is bittersweet.
‘It didn’t really hit me until I saw their mug shots,’ she told The Star. ‘I don’t want my parents to go to jail. That’s something that I never wanted. But I’m happy they’re being held accountable.’
On her part, Amanda Householder who left home in 2009 says for years she complained about the abuse, but no one listened until she started posting videos about the situation on Tiktok.
She felt compelled to report the horrific abuse suffered by herself and her peers after she had children of her own. Revealng that she would have loved to reach out to her parents, but has decided against that because she knows they would not feel remorseful.
She described some forms of psychological abuse at the ranch: “If my dad thought a girl was vain or thought she was pretty he would cut her hair off, just to humiliate her,” Amanda said in an interview.
The Attorney General said the investigation continues and urged anyone who was a victim or knows of further cases of abuse to contact his office.
Four former residents of the boarding schools have filed lawsuits alleging they were abused while they lived there. All the lawsuits were filed under the names ‘Jane Doe.’
Under Missouri law, faith-based boarding schools such as Circle of Hope are not subject to state oversight and are not required to be licensed. Circle of Hope described itself as a school that used the Bible to teach the girls proper behavior.
After The Star published an investigation of faith-based homes last year, Democratic Rep. Keri Ingle, of Lee´s Summit, and Republican Rep. Rudy Veit, of Wardsville, introduced identical bills that would require some regulation of these unlicensed schools.
The Missouri House Committee on Children and Families unanimously passed those measures last month and they are expected to be considered by the full House.
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