Alleged victims relieved to see charges filed against Circle of Hope owners
Boyd and Stephanie Householder facing more than a hundred felony charges combined.
CEDAR COUNTY, Mo. – Details of restraints that made it hard to breath and left bruises, instructions detailing how to commit suicide, accounts of young girls being forced to consume dishwashing liquid, and sexual assault that progressed to statutory rape.
All in a 37 page document, detailing charges against Boyd Householder.
“It still blows my mind that it actually was even able to happen,” says Gabrielle Whitton. “Those weren’t punishments… that was every day.”
On Tuesday, March 9th Boyd and Stephanie Householder, the owners of the Circle of Hope Girl’s Ranch in Cedar County, Missouri were charged with a combined 101 felony charges — including physical, mental and sexual abuse and neglect against minor girls.
“We believe this to be one of the most widespread cases of sexual, physical and mental abuse patterns against young girls and women in Missouri history,” says Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt in a Press Conference on Wednesday.
(You can see the press conference here: https://www.koamnewsnow.com/state-to-give-update-on-circle-of-hope-girls-ranch-abuse-investigation/)
In August, 2020, the state removed around 20 girls from the facility as the Cedar County Sheriff’s Office and Missouri Department of Social Services started a criminal investigation. In November 2020, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office got involved in the investigation.
So far 16 alleged victims have come forward, giving testimony of abuse that spans back to October, 2016.
“It is simply unthinkable to me that this kind of neglect and abuse can be perpetrated against those who are so vulnerable,” says Attorney General Schmitt.
“They did what they did. I’m just glad they’re being held accountable for it. Something I never thought was going to happen,” says the Householder’s adult daughter Amanda on TikTok.
For more than a year, Amanda has been speaking out about the alleged abuse at the boarding school — taking to social media and speaking with news agencies, trying to shed light on the situation.
This is the outcome she and many others have been working toward, but she explains that it’s still difficult.
“No one ever wants to see their parents go to jail, but they did this. They are being held accountable for their own actions,” explains Amanda. “I’m more frustrated at the fact that it took this long for anything to be done.”
“I’m more like almost disgusted after reading some of the things that I didn’t know about,” explains Gabrielle Whitton.
Gabrielle Whitton, who was at the facility for just under a year around a decade ago, says reading the charges against the pair takes her back to her time there — reminding her of the constant fear she was in.
She’s glad to see that there is finally true action being taken, so that no other girl will have to go through the same thing at the ranch in Cedar County.
“It’s been a long time of hearing the same stories, so to see this actually finally happen, I think I’m mostly like relieved and happy,” says Whitton.
The Householders are being held at the Vernon County, Missouri Jail.
Circle of Hope was a boarding school in Cedar County — with the now removed website saying it was Christian based. The facility closed permanently in September 2020, after the beginning of the investigation.
You can read the full list of charges, and a brief synopsis of what lead to each charge, below:
This is a story that KOAM has been following since the investigation began. You can find the previous stories below.