ALLEGATIONS ARE LIES? Owners of Christian boarding school say girls’ abuse allegations are lies [#CircleOfHope #CircleOfHopeGirlsRanch #BoydHouseholder #StephanieHouseholder] 09/16

ALLEGATIONS ARE LIES? Owners of Christian boarding school say girls’ abuse allegations are lies [#CircleOfHope #CircleOfHopeGirlsRanch #BoydHouseholder #StephanieHouseholder] 09/16

ALLEGATIONS ARE LIES? Owners of Christian boarding school say girls’ abuse allegations are lies [#CircleOfHope #CircleOfHopeGirlsRanch #BoydHouseholder #StephanieHouseholder] 09/16

Boyd and Stephanie Householder say they will not reopen their Circle of Hope Girls’ Ranch in rural southwest Missouri.

But not because they have done anything wrong. The couple adamantly deny that they ever physically abused or neglected residents of the faith-based reform school, as a growing group of women now say they did.

“I’m closed for good… I will not put up with a corrupt sheriff’s department and a corrupt social services department. I will not.”
– Boyd Householder, 71, who with his wife opened Circle of Hope in 2006

And Boyd Householder, and his wife fully intend to clear their name and restore their reputation.

“We’re going to take this all the way. We’re gonna, how do you say it, vindicate ourselves.”
– Boyd Householder

The Householders discussed the abuse and neglect allegations leveled on social media in recent months.

Authorities have removed all girls from the school, conducted a search of the property and are continuing a criminal investigation.

The Householders, however, say it is all lies, the machination of their estranged, troubled daughter and a group of girls whose lives did not turn out the way they wanted after they left the ranch.

This is the girls’ revenge, the Householders say, their plan to ruin the couple’s lives and shut them down.

“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.”
– Stephanie Householder, 55.

“The girls that are making these comments and stuff, they’ve gone nowhere in life. The girls that are praising us have gone to college, have a career in the military, have a career in office buildings as secretaries and so forth.
– Boyd Householder

“The ones that are saying this stuff are the ones that have not succeeded.”

Former residents who talked about the reform school described punishment that included withholding food and water and being forced to stand against a wall for hours for even minor infractions.

In recent years, the state has substantiated 4 reports of abuse and neglect involving Circle of Hope, according to the Missouri Department of Social Services.

One was for neglect, one for physical abuse and neglect and two for sexual abuse allegations.

But because the faith-based facility is exempt from state licensure, a spokeswoman for DSS said the state “does not have authority” over Circle of Hope’s operations.

The couple says they want their reputation restored and have appealed all 4 substantiated reports.

No criminal charges have been filed in any of the incidents.

Last month, Cedar County authorities removed all the girls who were still at the facility.

Prosecutor Ty Gaither said 25 girls were removed.

But the Householders say that is just one of the false statements authorities have made.

“By the time they actually took the last girl, they only took 18.”
– Stephanie Householder

In recent weeks, the Householders have stayed silent, not responding to emails or phone calls. But after Rep. Mike Stephens, a lawmaker from nearby Bolivar, vouched for the couple’s character and told they were being “vilified,” he called the Householders and suggested they reach out.

“We just want our side put out there.”
– Stephanie Householder

Mike Stephens said he does not know what went on every day at the ranch. But it’s important, he said, that people “approach this with eyes wide open and understand the dynamics in this.”

“I’m deeply concerned that this thing has a life of its own and momentum of its own.”
– Mike Stephen

Stephanie Householder said she and her husband would not be appealing the substantiated reports if they were not innocent.

And their attorney definitely would not appeal if he thought they were not.

“When you deal with the girls that we deal with — my husband and I both have scars. “I have broken bones from girls. Busted lips, my husband has had his lip busted.
– Stephanie Householder

“He had one girl stand in our dining room about four weeks before they took the girls, and she was beating on him, screaming at him that he was abusing her. And he had his hands in his pocket.

“These girls, they have serious problems.”

For more than a decade, the Householders said, their door was always open to social services.

Because allegations started arising soon after the first year Circle of Hope was in operation, they said, they got to know the social workers responding to hotline calls.

“In the very beginning, they used to call and say they were coming out. I actually would know ahead of time.”
– Stephanie Householder

The couple could tell what issues had been reported based on which girl had just left the facility.

“And I would tell them, ‘This is what is going on,’ We had a complete open door with them, until this whole thing went down in 2018.”
– Stephanie Householder

That is when the Children’s Division substantiated the first report, — a sexual abuse allegation against Boyd Householder, which he denies.

The allegation involved a girl who reported in 2017 that Boyd Householder had sexually abused her multiple times in January and February of that year.

The initial report was ruled to be unsubstantiated, the Householders said, because Boyd provided medical records showing he had suffered a heart attack and was incapacitated during the time she said the abuse occurred.

“And then she turns around and changes the date, like, ’Oh, excuse me, I was mistaken. It happened three months earlier.’ …That’s a little fishy to me. And they told him she was 17, but when they came back, it’s in the substantiated paper they sent, they said she was 16 at that time. She was very clear that it was, quote, consensual. Now, all of a sudden, it’s rape.
– Stephanie Householder

“And that’s when we started having all of these big problems with the allegations. We actually appealed it, but they’ve not even allowed us to go to court yet for that appeal.”

After that, the Householders said, they also began having issues with the DSS workers.

They said the workers would come by to interview the girls and tell them that they had their parents’ permission to do so when the parents had actually refused to allow it.

“And that’s when we started declaring, ‘This is our right. These are the parents’ rights.’”
– Stephanie Householder

By then, the Householder’s daughter, Amanda — who said her parents kicked her out when she was 17 — had joined forces with a group of former residents who said they had experienced and witnessed emotional and physical abuse at Circle of Hope.

Amanda said that she had started hearing from girls as far back as 2010.

In recent months, several of those former residents have recorded videos for social media describing their alleged abuse. A

nd a secret recording made in March by a friend of the Householders appeared to capture Boyd Householder endorsing the use of violence among the girls.

Boyd Householder said the video was edited and that he was simply telling one girl that she had the right to defend herself against another.

Hours of videos are now online.

Stephanie Householder said she and her husband have not watched a single one.

They hear from one of their sons who has watched nearly all of them, she said, and receive updates from some former students who regularly keep in touch and offer their support.

“To be honest with you, there’s no way we can defend ourselves against them. I’ve had a couple girls that have tried to defend us, but they’ve been verbally attacked.”
– Stephanie Householder

The Householders lashed out at their daughter, saying she was not credible.

“She’s a Satan worshiper. She’s addicted to drugs.“
– Boyd Householder

I don’t want to use that to disparage her name or to make an excuse or whatever, but I think people need to take that into context.”
– Stephanie Householder

Amanda Householder denied her parents’ claims.

“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.”
– Amanda Householder

As for the drug allegations, Amanda Householder said she did experiment many years ago, before she moved to California.

“I did ecstasy, and that was my extent of hard drugs. Oh, I did ‘shrooms.”
– Amanda Householder

But, Amanda Householder said, she has never done drugs like methamphetamine.

Amanda Householder said she is legally allowed to smoke marijuana for PTSD, which she said stems from her mistreatment as a child and what she witnessed at Circle of Hope.

The Householders responded to other allegations former residents had made against them, including the practice of restraining.

Some girls said they would be shoved to the floor, then Boyd Householder would kneel and press his knee on the back of their necks while 4 other girls or staff members were required to push as hard as they could on the pressure points on their arms and legs.

“We did restrain.”
– Boyd Householder adding that it was not for an hour but “20 minutes at the most.”

“We use the proper procedures on how to do the restraint. And we only restrain if they became physically abusive. Nobody stepped on anybody’s neck. No. Never.”

Boyd Householder acknowledged, however, that “mistakes have been made.”

When asked what Boyd Householder meant by that, he noted 2 incidents.

One, Boyd Householder said, was when the girls asked him what military boot camp was like.

“So I got them up at 4 o’clock in the morning, we did exercises, PT, came in for breakfast, went back out and did PT before school. I was advised, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you.’ So I stopped it.”
– Boyd Householder, a Marine who served in Vietnam

Boyd Householder also used to allow the girls to box each other.

“I had one girl, she wanted to box another girl because the girl was a bully and picking on her. I went out and bought boxing gear, everything to keep it safe — mouthpieces, the whole works — and let them box. The bully became so — I had to pull her apart. She got her arm underneath another girl’s arm and dislocated her shoulder, so I stopped that.”
– Boyd Householder

Amanda Householder said while she is relieved to hear that her parents are shutting down Circle of Hope, she is not going to stop pushing for a thorough investigation.

“I’m not done. They can deny it all they want, but they still need to be held accountable.”
– Amanda Householder

A Lee’s Summit lawmaker has requested the state’s Office of the Child Advocate conduct a complete review of allegations against Circle of Hope.

The review will not look at the substantiated reports, but the hotline calls that came in and reports that were unsubstantiated.

“They look at not only what Children’s Division did and whether or not they followed state law and policy, but they also look at what all of the other agencies did. To make sure there was adherence to the policies and the laws that exist on the books and then they offer recommendations.”
– Rep. Keri Ingle, a Democrat

Keri Ingle, a former Jackson County Children’s Division social worker, has requested a committee hearing in Jefferson City.

There are many unanswered questions in the Circle of Hope case according to Keri Ingle.

“I want to know what happened, what happened in the system? Was it they weren’t following their own policies, they weren’t following existing laws? Or are there laws and policies that need to be put in place to prevent this from happening again?”
– Keri Ingle

One piece of legislation Keri Ingle is already in the early stages of drafting relates to an existing state law that exempts certain facilities, including those that are faith-based, from state licensure.

Keri Ingle would like to see a measure that would implement oversight on exempt facilities if multiple hotline calls of abuse and neglect come in during a certain period or if a report is substantiated.

Or, Keri Ingle said, if there is a series of severe reports made.

“It would make sure that if you’re not adhering to existing state law to protect children, then you lose that privilege of exemption.”
– Keri Ingle

Stephanie Householder said the fact that she and her husband did not seek licensing from DSS has nothing to do with them not wanting state oversight.

“The reason we would never take a license is because once you take a license from the state, if a child didn’t want to go to church, then that child didn’t have to go to church. And the problem with that is, then that meant the rest of them wouldn’t be able to go to church. And part of our program was they would go to church.
– Stephanie Householder

“… The license doesn’t mean that social services is there 24 hours making sure that the kids are, quote, safe.”

When the girls were removed from Circle of Hope last month, many went to a facility in Joplin. From there, some went home.

The Householders said more than one family asked the couple if they could send their daughters back to the ranch.

But ultimately, no child has stayed at the ranch since the girls were taken according to them.

One reason no girls returned to the reform school is what law enforcement threatened to do according to the Householders.

“The parents were told you can take your daughter back, but the very first allegation or hotline call, you will be charged.”
– Stephanie Householder

According to them, within a couple of days of the girls’ removal, a hotline call was made and authorities came out to do a “well check.”

The deputy reportedly named 7 girls he needed to check on.

“I told him I’d open the dorm up and he could talk to any girls he could find at that point. My belief is that somebody, whether it was social services or law enforcement, hotlined it, because they wanted to know if we had girls. And we didn’t have girls.”
– Stephanie Householder

For now, the couple waits for their chance to fight the allegations.

“And to be honest, with the evidence we have, it proves that the substantiated is lies. It’s not substantiated. Then, we’re going to try to get it to every media outlet that has reported that we are these horrible, vicious people and vindicate ourselves.”
– Stephanie Householder

Owners of Missouri Christian boarding school say girls’ abuse allegations are lies:
The Kansas City Star

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