Saturday, 13 March 2021

Religious Abuse News - 100 Counts of Rape and Abuse in Christian Girls Home

Boyd and Stephanie Householder face more than 100 charges, including dozens relating to child neglect and abuse.
Missouri couple, who owned religious girls home, charged with over 100 counts of abuse, rape | State News |

Details are emerging of "horrific, sexual, physical, and mental abuse" of girls at a Cedar County, Missouri home for teenage girls run by Christian fundamentalists, Boyd and Stephanie Householder. The couple have been running the, now closed down, Circle of Hope Girls' Ranch boarding school for young ladies "who were destroying their lives through poor choices and behaviours", since 2006.

According to Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt's website:

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt Announces 102 Criminal Charges Against Proprietors of Circle of Hope Girls Ranch and Boarding School

Mar 10, 2021, 12:50 PM by AG Schmitt

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced today in a press conference that his Office has filed a total of 102 criminal charges against Boyd and Stephanie Householder, who were the owners and operators of the now-defunct Circle of Hope Girls Ranch and Boarding School. Boyd and Stephanie Householder have been arrested and are in custody.

Boyd Householder has been charged in Cedar County with 79 felony charges and one misdemeanor, including 6 counts of 2nd Degree Statutory Rape, 7 counts of 2nd Degree Statutory Sodomy, 6 counts of Sexual Contact with a Student, one count of 2nd Degree Child Molestation, 56 counts of Abuse or Neglect of a Child, and 2 counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

Stephanie Householder has been charged in Cedar County with 22 felony charges, including 12 counts of Abuse or Neglect of a Child, and 10 counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

Missouri AG details ‘horrific’ abuse in charges against girls reform school owners
“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,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “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.”

The Attorney General’s Office was asked by the Cedar County Prosecutor’s Office to assist in this case, and Governor Parson’s Office appointed the Attorney General’s Office as special prosecutor in mid-November 2020. This case was investigated by the Missouri State Technical Assistance Team (STAT). Assistant Attorneys General Melissa Pierce and Jennifer Coffin, Victim Advocates Melissa Koetting and Jocelyn Boehlje, and Investigators Kyle Eckhoff, David Southard, and Cody Fulkerson have been assigned to the case and have reviewed multiple Cedar County Sheriff’s Department reports, Children’s Services reports, as well as extensive documentation, interviews and evidence provided by STAT.

The felony information documents for Boyd and Stephanie Householder detail the charged extensive sexual, physical, and mental abuse that a number of girls were subjected to while attending the Circle of Hope Girls Ranch and Boarding School, formerly located in Humansville, Missouri.

Using forensic interviews, statements and extensive documentation seized from the property, the Attorney General’s Office was able to piece together the extent and degree of abuse that allegedly occurred at Circle of Hope.

Counts 1 through 22 in Boyd Householder’s felony information document allege repeated statutory sodomy, statutory rape, and sexual contact with a student, detailing multiple incidents where Boyd Householder had oral and sexual intercourse with a victim under the age of 17, as well as several incidents where Boyd Householder placed his finger(s) in the victim’s vagina.

Several victims throughout the felony information documents for Boyd and Stephanie Householder describe the physical abuse suffered at the hands of the Householders, which included restraints that involved Boyd Householder pushing his knee into the backs of several victims, applying pressure to certain pressure points, handcuffing or restraining victims’ hands and feet, and forcing victims to hold the “push-up position.” Charged incidents also entailed Boyd Householder slamming victims’ heads or bodies against walls, slapping or hitting victims with his hands or belt or other instrument, shoving a victim’s face into horse manure, pouring hot sauce down a victim’s throat, and other instances of physical abuse.

Count 36 of Boyd Householder’s felony information document details an event here Boyd Householder forced a victim to drink at least 220 ounces of water and then run a mile until she vomited, and then forced her to run again.

Additionally, Count 34 in Boyd Householder’s felony information details an incident in which Boyd Householder instructed several victims on the best way to kill yourself by cutting your wrists upwards, not across.

In total, the forensic interviews and statements of 16 victims were used to corroborate instances of alleged abuse.

The Attorney General’s Office is continually working to identify and contact victims, and urges anyone who has any information related to abuse at Circle of Hope Girls Ranch to contact the Office at 573-751-0309.

All persons charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Criminal charges are not evidence of a crime.
The Householders started their career in homes for troubled teens at Agape Boarding School. Agape is also in Cedar County and is currently under investigation by Missouri State Highway Patrol.

According to this NBC report:
Circle of Hope is part of a national landscape of institutions referred to as the troubled teen industry, which has received increased attention since celebrity Paris Hilton began talking about her time at one such facility. Parents place their children in these programs hoping to correct behaviors ranging from talking back and skipping school to drug abuse.

But in many states, the industry has little to no regulation. No state agency in Missouri licensed or accredited Circle of Hope, and former residents and parents believe that’s partly why the abuse went unchecked at the ranch for more than a decade.
The action against this couple comes exactly a year after their daughter, Amanda Householder launched a campaign against them in TikTok.

According to the same NBC report:
And although the Missouri Department of Social Services determined in a preliminary finding two years ago that Boyd physically abused a minor, according to court documents — a finding Boyd disputed; the case is still pending — the agency said it didn’t have power to force the ranch to close because it did not have licensing authority. Amanda had been uneasy about what she said she’d witnessed at her parents’ ranch for years. After seeing the video from Askins, she decided to start talking publicly. “I told everyone, ‘I can’t be silent anymore,’” Amanda said. “No one can deny us, no one can tell us it wasn't true anymore.” Amanda set up a TikTok account in May carrying the bio: “My parents own an abusive boarding school for girls. This is my page exposing it.” Videos by Amanda and former residents describing abuse at the ranch amassed more than 33 million views — and finally prompted action. The Cedar County Sheriff’s Department and the state Department of Social Services opened an investigation, which is ongoing, and in August the state removed two dozen girls from the ranch, effectively closing it. The Householders decided this month not to reopen their school rather than deal with the government. On Wednesday, two former residents, both anonymous, filed lawsuits against the Householders: One accused Boyd of raping her as a minor multiple times in 2015 and said that Stephanie was aware of the abuse and did nothing to stop it. The other alleges that Boyd threw her into a wall and to the ground, and the Householders fed her so little that she lost 40 pounds in two months when she was placed there in 2014. The suits did not state whether the alleged abuse had been reported to state or local authorities. In an email, Stephanie denied the allegations of abuse, which she said came from “a few girls [who] have no credibility.” “It is a fact that the accusations will not withstand the scrutiny of examination and the testimony of others as to the truth,” Stephanie said in an email. She said she and her husband would not discuss the allegations further.
The Circle of Hope Ranch has close links with an independent fundamentalist Baptist churches, a member of a the loose affiliation of fundamentalist Baptist churches which, according to this report, has a long history of sexual abuses entailing hundreds of cases. The problem being that there is widespread coverup and a code of silence enforced by fear and threats that would be the envy of any branch of the Mafia. When pastors are accused of abuse of minors or vulnerable adults they simply transfer to another church where they are free to carry on abusing. There is little or no vetting of pastors and no regulation. Anyone can start a church and call him/herself a pastor.

A similar situation exists in this burgeoning industry of religion-based boarding schools where religious parents can send their 'problem' children in the belief that a strict religious regime will correct their 'sinful ways'.

According to this same report:
To understand how this systemic, widespread abuse could happen again and again, some former members say it is necessary to understand the cult-like power of many independent fundamental Baptist churches and the constant pressure not to question pastors — or ever leave the church.

“We didn’t have a compound like those other places, but it may as well have been,” said one former member who says she was abused. She requested anonymity because, like many others, she is still intimidated by the church.

“Our mind was the compound.”

Current and formers members say many independent fundamental Baptist churches rule by fear.

Pastor Jim Vineyard was an expert in the tactic.

Vineyard had a tattoo snaking around his forearm and liked to talk about the days he said he was a Green Beret. He began his preaching career under Dave Hyles’ father, Jack, in Indiana and left to begin his own church, Windsor Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.

Former members in Oklahoma City remember the story about a photo of a dead man Vineyard kept in his desk. It was a favorite of Vineyard’s to tell from the pulpit.

In one version of the story, the picture was of a man who voted against Vineyard coming into the church to pastor. The man subsequently got into a car crash and broke his neck.

Or there was this version: The photo was of the son of a Windsor Hills family who told Vineyard they were going to leave the church. Vineyard warned them: If they did, God would punish them. They left, and the son died in a car crash.

Defy Jim Vineyard, the message went, and God would punish you.

To go against the advice of the pastor of an independent fundamental Baptist church is almost unthinkable. The “man of God” is chosen by God and is the church’s direct link to him. To question the pastor is to question God.

“I see a culture where pastoral authority is taken to a level that’s beyond what the Scripture teaches,” said Tim Heck, who was a deacon at Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar, California, and whose daughter said she had been abused by the youth pastor there. “I think the independent fundamental Baptists have lost their way.”

Many pastors build authority through fear and interpretation of Bible verses. Children learn the story of Elisha and the she-bears: As the prophet Elisha walks up the path toward Bethel, a group of children surrounds him and makes fun of his baldness. Two she-bears emerge from the woods and maul 42 of the children. The lesson: Don’t challenge the man of God.

Even if they leave, some ex-members wonder for years whether bad events in their lives were caused by an angry God. Jennifer McCune, who came forward this year to allege that Dave Hyles raped her when she was a 14-year-old in Texas, still wonders 36 years later if God punished her by giving her late husband cancer.
Few cases better illustrate the truth of the saying:

Religions provide excuses for people who need excuses!

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