In August 2020 approximately two dozen children were removed from the Humansville, Missouri Circle of Hope Girl's Ranch and Boarding School due in large part to the undaunted investigation by the Cedar County Republican.
They looked into the allegations and contacted former residents at the boarding school for months before there was a formal investigation.
Months before Dateline scheduled a report for February 11, 2021, which included an interview with Amanda Householder, the adult daughter of Boyd and Stephanie Householder, owners of the Circle of Hope.
Leading up to that segment, the Springfield News-Leader revisited an interview that they had conducted with Amanda about the allegations that were coming out.
Amanda, at that time, had told the outlet that she had been in touch with at least 30 former residents who had endured abuse. At the time she said, "Girls are being physically, emotionally, religiously and sexually abused. And what I mean by 'religiously' is they cannot practice any religion but my parents', which is fundamentalist Baptist."
A former employee at the school who spoke with investigators said that Boyd would manipulate Bible verses in order to defend his actions. Those actions though, she knows were not at all Christian.
"If you would have asked me two years ago," Amanda said, "I would have said I wanted it [Circle of Hope] shut down. But, the more and more stories I hear, if it just gets shut down, that's not gonna do anyone good. My dad needs help and just shutting it down and letting him move to a different state and opening another one is not gonna help him. The girls deserve justice, and they deserve to see him behind bars."
Attorneys with the law firm Haden, Cowhers and Bullock out of Springfield Missouri are representing four former residents in a civil lawsuit, all of whom are being identified in court documents as "Jane Doe" due to the nature of the allegations. All four share similar stories of physical and sexual abuse during their time at Circle of Hope with two telling of sexual abuse at the hands of Boyd and two others reporting sexual abuse at the hands of their son.
At this time, the Householder son has neither been named nor charged.
“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 Missouri's Attorney General Eric 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.”
Boyd, however, is now in custody and facing 79 felony charges and one misdemeanor charge. The charges against him include 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 has been charged with 22 felonies including 12 counts of abuse or neglect of a child, and 10 counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
The Householders have denied the allegations against them. In a nearly two-hour long interview with The Star in September 2020 Stephanie said of those making the allegations, "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."
Boyd stated "We're going to take this all the way," in order to clear his and his wife's name and reputation. "We're gonna, how do you say it, vindicate ourselves."
Stephanie said that she and her husband would not be fighting back against the substantiated reports filed by protective services if they were not innocent. Boyd even lashed out at their daughter saying, "She's a Satan worshipper" and "addicted to drugs."
Amanda responded to The Star's request for comment by saying, "I'm not a Satanist, no. I'm an atheist, and if you walk into my house, you'll see I have almost every Bible from every religion."
In response to the drug allegations, she stated that she is legally allowed to smoke marijuana for a PTSD diagnosis stemming, she said, from the abuse she suffered and witnessed as a child.
Circle of Hope opened in 2006 in order to "help young ladies who were destroying their lives through poor choices and behaviors, change their future" and operated until August 2020. As a religious organization, it was not required to seek licensing from the state in order to deal with troubled youth.
Boyd and Stephanie are in custody in the Vernon County Jail. Their initial arraignment took place today where both entered a plea of not guilty. Their bond hearings were scheduled for March 17 before Judge Thomas G. Pyle.