Husband and wife who ran religious school face 100 charges for “sexual, physical and mental abuse”


The owners of a former Christian reform school for girls in southwest Missouri have been charged with more than 100 counts of horrific sexual, emotional and physical abuse of students.

Sixteen former residents of the Circle of Hope Girls Ranch in Cedar County say Boyd and Stephanie Householder often tied them in handcuffs, whipped them with belts, sealed their mouths with duct tape, and punched or kicked them for minor offenses such as drinking from a spring or singing.

The couple’s daughter, Amanda, who attended school, began posting TikTok videos about alleged abuse she and her peers suffered, prompting other girls to come forward.

Boyd Householder (pictured), 71, is charged on 22 counts of having sexual interference, including intercourse, with a girl who was under 17 at the time

Boyd Householder, 71, is charged on 22 counts of having sexual interference, including intercourse, with a girl who was under 17 at the time.

The couple pleaded not guilty to arraignment on Wednesday afternoon. A bail hearing was scheduled for next Wednesday.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt told a press conference on Wednesday that the alleged victims also said they were forced to shovel manure for hours, stand with their noses against a wall while being handcuffed for hours. days and locked in rooms without beds or lights.

He said: “Today my office filed a total of 102 criminal charges against Boyd and Stephanie Householder, owners of the late Circle of Hope Girls Ranch and Boarding School.

“The prosecution documents allege widespread and horrific sexual, physical and mental abuse by heads of household.

“There are no words I can say here today to describe the mixture of great sadness, horror, disgust and sympathy that I feel in the face of these reports of cruel and almost cruel abuse and neglect. incredible, ”Schmitt said. “We intend to do everything in our power to achieve justice for these victims.”

Stephanie Householder, 55, has been charged with 22 counts, most involving child abuse or neglect

Stephanie Householder, 55, has been charged with 22 counts, most involving child abuse or neglect

Schmitt said Boyd Householder also told at least seven girls the “right way” to kill themselves, and he’s accused of forcing a girl to drink at least 220 ounces of water, to run a mile or so. what she vomits, and then to run again.

The households were charged Tuesday and are being held in the Vernon County Jail.

Boyd Householder faces 79 counts of felony and one misdemeanor, including several counts of rape, sodomy and child abuse and neglect.

Stephanie Householder, 55, has been charged with 22 counts, most of which involve child abuse or neglect.

His charges do not involve sexual contact. She is also accused of immobilizing students and allowing her husband to have continuous contact with several girls after physically assaulting them.

“With 16 victims to date, we believe this is one of the most widespread cases of sexual, physical and mental abuse of young girls in Missouri history,” Schmitt said.

The couple's daughter Amanda (pictured), who was attending school, began posting TikTok videos about alleged abuse she and her peers suffered, prompting other girls to come forward

The couple’s daughter Amanda (pictured), who was attending school, began posting TikTok videos about alleged abuse she and her peers suffered, prompting other girls to come forward

He declined to say the ages of the victims who came forward, describing them only as girls and young women. Circle of Hope closed in August after investigators removed about two dozen girls. Many girls have been sent home from out of state.

The charges came after an investigation by law enforcement in Cedar County and elsewhere that began when former residents of the house made allegations against the households on social media.

Cedar County District Attorney Ty Gaither asked Schmitt’s office to help him with the investigation in mid-November.

Online court records do not name household attorneys.

Households told the Kansas City Star in September that the allegations were lies instigated by their estranged daughter and daughters who failed in life after leaving the ranch.

“They’re angry and they’re bitter, and they want to blame someone,” Stephanie Householder said. “They feel like they are victims and they just want to express their anger with someone.”

Circle of Hope (pictured) closed in August after investigators removed around two dozen girls

Circle of Hope (pictured) closed in August after investigators removed around two dozen girls

The estranged daughter of the heads of the household, Amanda, said she was kicked out of the house at the age of 17 due to disagreements with her parents.

She has led the effort to shut down Circle of Hope and says she believes “100%” of the allegations against her parents.

But the announcement of the charges is bittersweet.

“It didn’t really touch me until I saw their ID photos,” she told The Star. “I don’t want my parents to go to jail. This is something I never wanted. But I am glad they are being held accountable.

Schmitt said the investigation was continuing and urged anyone experiencing or aware of other cases of abuse to contact his office.

Four former residents of the residential schools have filed lawsuits alleging that they were mistreated while living there. All 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 supervision and are not required to be licensed. Circle of Hope described itself as a school that used the Bible to teach girls good behavior.

After The Star published a survey of faith 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 these measures last month and they are expected to be considered by the entire House.


Comments are closed.