[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
Parents seriously might want to reconsider sending their kids off to boarding school after hearing this absolutely horrific story. A couple who ran a now-closed faith-based boarding school for girls in Missouri called the Circle Of Hope Girls Ranch, are facing over 100 charges of “horrific sexual, physical, and mental abuse.” Boyd and Stephanie Householder were arrested Tuesday and pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Wednesday. They are scheduled for their next hearing on March 17.
Championed by the couple’s estranged daughter, Amanda (who was kicked out of home at 17), young women have been sharing their stories of abuse at the hands of the Householders via TikTok since last year. Currently, 16 former students are claiming the couple frequently abused them by forcing the girls to wear handcuffs for hours (or days) on end, whipping them with belts, or even punching them for minor infractions — like drinking from a spring. Tragically, these are not even the worst of the allegations.
The 71-year-old man is charged with 22 counts of sexual contact — including sexual intercourse with a minor. He also faces 79 felony charges and one misdemeanor charge, sadly including counts of statutory rape, statutory sodomy, and abuse and neglect of a child.
His 55-year-old wife faces 22 counts, none of which are for sexual contact. Though, it’s important to note she is accused of allowing Boyd to continue to be with girls she knew he was physically assaulting.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Schmitt published a statement that further described abuse such as Boyd “shoving a victim’s face into horse manure, pouring hot sauce down a victim’s throat” as well as “pushing his knee into the backs of several victims, applying pressure to certain pressure points” and “forcing victims to hold the ‘push-up position.’” Schmitt also claimed during a press conference that Boyd had instructed at least seven students on the “proper way” to die by suicide. He even allegedly forced a girl to drink 220 ounces of water (that’s nearly two gallons) before running until she vomited — and then making her keep running! WTF???
The Attorney General noted:
“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. 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.”
This is already a historic case for the state; AG Schmitt acknowledged:
“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.”
No kidding! With over 100 charges of abuse, it’s pretty shocking they were able to get away with this so long. While Boyd and Stephanie are currently being held in Vernon County Jail and have yet to publicly address the allegations, they did speak out when conversation first sparked in September. Mrs. Householder told The Kansas City Star of the girls in their care:
“They’re angry and they’re bitter, and they want to blame somebody. They feel like they’re victims, and they just want to take their anger out on somebody.”
So they all got together and conspired to make credible claims of abuse? Because they were angry? Right…
As for how Amanda’s feeling now that her parents officially have mugshots and have been placed behind bars, she told The Sun:
“It didn’t really hit me until I saw their mug shots. 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.”
We get that this must be a difficult and harrowing scenario to wrap one’s head around, but totally commend this young women for consistently speaking out against her parents in hopes of getting justice for herself and so many others!
Also, this just goes to show why there need to be some SERIOUS legal changes surrounding boarding schools and specifically faith-based institutions who, under current Missouri law, aren’t required to be licensed or be subject to state oversight. Like, that’s a MAJOR red flag!! No matter the lens through which a school decides to teach its students, such as using the Bible at Circle of Hope, any facilities caring for minors should be required to uphold a certain set of rules. And there should definitely be regular “check-ins” by state officials for boarding facilities. That’s common sense whether you’re religious or not, people!!
But seriously… maybe think twice before sending your kids to a boarding school.
This isn’t even the first time this year we’ve heard survivors speak out on their past experiences at boarding schools. Most notably, Paris Hilton testified against her former Utah residence, Provo Canyon School, just last month! As documented in her YouTube series, This Is Paris, the media mogul was “verbally, mentally, and physically abused on a daily basis.” She shared:
“I was cut off from the outside world and stripped of all my human rights.”
And many others have come forward with corroborating stories since she led the way.
UGH. So not OK. Hopefully big court cases like these will finally bring some real, accountable legislation to the table so more young men and women NEVER have to face these tragic experiences ever again. Thinking of all the survivors out there today and always…
[Image via Missouri Attorney General’s Office]