Former Missouri boarding school owners get 2023 trial date

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Boyd and Stephanie Householder, in a photo from Cedar County Jail. The Missouri attorney general has filed 100 charges against the owners of Circle of Hope, including allegations of sexual abuse.

Cedar County Jail

Owners of a now-closed all-girls boarding school in southwest Missouri won’t face a jury on abuse charges for another year and a half.

Indicted 16 months ago on nearly 100 counts of crimes against children, Boyd and Stephanie Householder are due to stand trial from November 27 to December 15, 2023. The decision was made at a Monday hearing in the Court of Cedar County Circuit.

“I am extremely relieved that there is now a trial date,” said the couple’s daughter, Amanda Householder, who for several years has been an outspoken critic of Missouri’s religious boarding schools and has filed a lawsuit against her parents for abuse. .

“This day can’t come soon enough.”

Household members were not in the courtroom, instead attending via video conference. They have been under house arrest for a year.

Households were arrested in March 2021 for felony child abuse. Boyd Householder faces 78 felony counts, including six counts of second-degree statutory rape, nine counts of second-degree statutory buggery, six counts of sexual contact with a student and 55 counts of abuse or neglect. a kid. He is also charged with one count of second-degree child molestation, a misdemeanor.

The charges allege that Boyd Householder, now 73, slammed the girls’ heads or bodies against walls, slapped or hit them with his hands, a belt or other objects, rammed a girl’s face girl in horse manure and poured hot sauce down a girl’s throat.

Stephanie Householder, 57, is charged with 21 felonies, including 11 counts of child abuse or neglect and 10 counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

The couple were held without bail until last July, when David R. Munton, presiding judge for the 28th Judicial Circuit, unexpectedly set $10,000 bail after Boyd Householder said he had COVID- 19 and Stephanie Householder said she had a severe blood clot inside her. foot which, if not properly treated, can lead to amputation.

Munton imposed restrictions on them, including wearing ankle monitors.

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Boyd and Stephanie Householder closed the Circle of Hope Girls Ranch in southwest Missouri in September. They now face 102 charges, including statutory rape, buggery and physical assault. All but one of the 102 charges are felonies. The star

Their release has infuriated former students and children’s rights advocates. Former residents who spoke to The Star of the reform school described punishments that included withholding food and water and being forced to stand against a wall for hours for even infractions minors.

In September, the Householders asked the judge to ease their stay-at-home restrictions. Among the reasons given was the freedom to leave their Vernon County home so they could go to Walmart for groceries. The couple also asked to be able to attend church on Sundays instead of listening on their phones from home.

Munton denied the claims.

Amanda Householder sued her parents in March for forced labor, beating her for their own sexual gratification and forcing her to punish other students at their southwestern Missouri boarding school.

She alleged that her parents made her work at the Circle of Hope as a teenager and helped her discipline the students, including the use of painful physical restraints that sometimes lasted for hours. She also accused her parents of beating her while she was naked, making her do repeated exercises for hours, and force-feeding her until she vomited, then feeding her.

Some of the childhood abuse, she said, also happened at Agape boarding school, where Boyd Householder worked before opening Circle of Hope. She alleged that the Agape founder, who died in October, had known about the abuse for years but did nothing to stop it and failed to report the allegations to authorities.

The Householders opened Circle of Hope near Humansville in 2006. They closed it shortly after about two dozen girls were kicked out during an investigation in August 2020. In a September 12, 2020 interview with The Star, the Householders have vehemently denied the allegations made against them and accused their daughter of wanting to do anything to silence them.

They have not spoken to the media since.

Kansas City Star Related Stories

Laura Bauer came to The Star in 2005 after spending much of her life in southwestern Missouri. She is a member of the investigative team which focuses on surveillance journalism. Over her 25-year career, Laura’s stories of child protection, human trafficking, crime, and Kansas secrecy have been nationally recognized.

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Judy L. Thomas joined The Star in 1995 and is a member of the investigative team, focusing on surveillance journalism. For three decades, the Kansas native covered domestic terrorism, extremist groups and clergy sex abuse. His stories of Kansas secrecy and religion have been nationally recognized.

Clyde P. Johnson