Stephanie and Boyd Householder, the owners of Circle of Hope Girls Ranch in rural Missouri, have been at the center of a series of accusations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse at the Christian boarding school and on February 11, NBC’s Dateline shone a light on these allegations.
The ranch’s website, according to its archived homepage, stated that “Circle of Hope’s goal is to help young ladies who were destroying their lives through poor choices and behaviors, change their future. They have been described as ‘uncontrollable girls who won’t let their parents help them.'”
However, in the past year, a series of former residents and parents and the Householders’ daughter have reported abuse at the ranch and called for an investigation into the boarding school and its co-owners, including through a viral video on social media platform TikTok, NBC News reported.
Two civil lawsuits were filed in Cedar County court in September 2020, both from women who said they lived at Circle of Hope Ranch in their teens and were abused and raped by the ranch’s co-owner and son, the Springfield News-Leader wrote. The two women were identified only as Jane Doe I and Jane Doe II.
The Two Civil Lawsuits Outlined a Series of Physical & Emotional Abuses Experienced at the Ranch
Jane Doe II’s lawsuit, cited in the News-Leader, stated that she arrived at Circle of Hope when she was 15 in February 2015 and 18 months later she was chosen to be Boyd Householder’s “secretary.” She said he began making “inappropriate sexual remarks” and touched her inappropriately. The lawsuit accused him of raping and assaulting Doe II repeatedly over the course of six months, behavior that was known to his wife, it stated.
According to the News-Leader, Jane Doe I’s lawsuit stated she arrived at the boarding school when she was 16 and made similar allegations toward the Householders. Doe I said the Householders’ teenage son touched her inappropriately while his parents were present and accused him of a “physical attack during which he removed Jane Doe I’s clothing and forcibly raped her.”
In addition to their own experiences, the lawsuits listed a series of physical and emotional abuses toward all the girls at the Circle of Hope Ranch, including restricted restroom usage, under- or over-feeding, limiting their water and much more, the News-Leader reported.
The Householders Are Now Under Criminal Investigation Following Allegations of Abuse at the Circle of Hope Ranch
I just came across a bunch of people on tik tok speaking out against Circle of Hope ranch girls boarding school & the troubled teen industry & holy cow is this an issue. TW: these places are full of abuse.
— Samantha Crain 💜 (@SamanthaC9616) May 26, 2020
In August 2020, the state of Missouri removed the girls from the ranch following the allegations of abuse, although NBC News reported that complaints about the boarding school began the year it opened.
An investigation into the accusations of abuse has been ongoing for months now, KY3 reported in November, with many state agencies involved. No criminal charges have been filed against the Householders at this time and the couple has denied all accusations, calling the social services and sheriff’s departments “corrupt” in an interview with the Kansas City Star.
Stephanie and Boyd Householder told the outlet the former students made up the accusations to shut their business down because they were unhappy “their lives didn’t turn out the way they wanted,” the Star wrote.
The Circle of Hope Ranch Property Was Put Up for Sale in the Fall of 2020
We Need to Talk about "Circle of Hope Ranch" & Why We Need to Help Shut it Downhttps://t.co/azwZkp6LPy
— Katie Joy (@woacbofficial) September 5, 2020
The Christian boarding school’s property was put up for sale in September 2020, according to the Kansas City Star, following the abuse allegations and subsequent criminal investigation. The Householders owned the Circle of Hope Ranch property since 2006 and asked $199,900 for the land and buildings as well as a separate property across the road where their three-bedroom home is for $74,900.
The Circle of Hope Ranch property is listed as sold as of December 30, 2020, while the manufactured home, which sits on 3.5 acres, is pending. The properties are about seven miles from Humansville in Cedar County, Missouri. When the Householders spoke to the Star in September 2020, they said they “were not quite sure” what their next step would be. “We’re trying to figure (it) out,” Stephanie Householder told the outlet. “Everything’s gonna go on as far as all the legal things. … We’re just waiting it out.”