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Missouri attorney general files numerous charges against operators of Circle of Hope Girls Ranch in Cedar County

Published: Mar. 9, 2021 at 9:18 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 10, 2021 at 11:16 AM CST
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KY3) - The Missouri Attorney General’s Office filed numerous charges of abuse against the operators of the Circle of Hope Girls Ranch in Cedar County.

Authorities arrested Boyd and Stephanie Householder. They remain jailed in the Vernon County Jail in Nevada, Mo. Boyd Householder faces 80 charges. Stephanie Householder faces 22 charges.

Boyd Householder faces 79 felony charges and one misdemeanor, including six counts of second-degree statutory rape, seven counts of second-degree statutory sodomy, six counts of sexual contact with a student, one count of second-degree child molestation, 56 counts of abuse or neglect of a child, and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Stephanie Householder faces 22 felony charges, including 12 counts of abuse or neglect of a child, and 10 counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

“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,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “The charging documents allege extensive, and horrific, sexual, physical, and mental abuse perpetrated by the Householders. My Office has worked tirelessly to investigate this case and will continue to work around the clock to ensure that justice is obtained in this case.”

State investigators removed about two dozen girls in mid-august from the facility outside Humansville. The state along with the Cedar County Prosecutor’s Office began outlining a case against the Householders.

Four former residents of the girls ranch filed civil lawsuits against them. Attorneys at Haden, Cowherd and Bullock in Springfield represent all four of the former residents. The lawsuits list them as “Jane Doe” because of the nature of the allegations. All four allege both physical and sexual abuse during their time at Circle of Hope Girls Ranch. The alleged abuse includes restraining girls on the ground with multiple people for extended periods, refusing restroom breaks even after an accident, forcing girls to remain in push-up position for hours and in solitary confinement for days.

The first two young women who filed lawsuits lived at Circle of Hope girls ranch in 2014 and 2015. The third Jane Doe arrived at Circle of Hope in 2012 when she was 14-years-old. She claims, similar to Jane Doe two, Boyd Householder made her his “secretary” and repeatedly sexually assaulted her. The lawsuit claims Stephanie Householder was fully aware of the abuse.

The fourth Jane Doe stayed at the ranch for two years, starting in 2014 when she was also 14-years-old. Similar to the first Jane Doe, she claims the Householder’s son sexually assaulted her multiple times. The lawsuit claims she told Boyd and Stephanie Householder, but they didn’t believe her.

A former employee says she never witnessed sexual abuse, but did witness and was forced to participate in the physical torture. She says Boyd Householder manipulated Bible verses to defend his actions, that she now knows were not at all Christian.

Members of a Missouri House committee listened to testimony proposing state oversight for private faith-based boarding schools like Circle of Hope. Since Circle of Hope called itself a Christian organization, it was not required to get a state license, and was unregulated.

The Attorney General’s Office is continually working to identify and contact victims, and urges anyone who has any information related to abuse at Circle of Hope Girls Ranch to contact the Office at 573-751-0309.

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