HUMANSVILLE, Mo. — The Cedar County Republican newspaper has been tracking allegations of abuse for months at the “reformatory” boarding school for young girls.
Just a few miles west of Highway 13 on N Highway sits Circle of Hope Girls Ranch, a facility that identifies as a faith-based reformatory school for young women.
Their website displays a message that says their help young girls who were “destroying their lives through poor choices and behaviors”, and their mission to “use the bible to teach them that they are to obey their parents and the authority over them.”
At the Cedar County Republican, Editor Miles Brite and Kathryn Skopec have been tracking allegations of abuse there for months. Brite says Skopec, their lead reporter, has heard from a double-digit amount of accusers.
“She has spent hours upon hours discussing these things, doing on-the-record interview with these accusers,” says Brite. “While I don’t want to get into too much of the specifics as to what is contained in some of these, largely, very largely, the stories from girls who were there a dozen years apart and were complete strangers had essentially identical stories to tell in some circumstances.”
Brite says they have held off on sharing those stories, waiting for some kind of legal action to take place at the Circle of Hope. Last week, that finally happened.
According to Brite, at least 24 girls were removed from the property by Child Protective Services, and that was confirmed to KOLR10 by Cedar County Prosecutor Ty Gaither.
“Children were removed from the Circle of Hope as part of an investigation involving several state agencies including Cedar County Sheriff’s Department,” said Gaither.
The Sheriff’s Department and Sheriff James McCrary have yet to return our calls.
According to the Cedar County Assessor’s website, “Circle of Hope” is owned by Boyd Householder, 71, and Stephanie Householder, 55.
Brite says the Cedar County Republican has reached out to the Householder family multiple times for comment, who have denied the allegations, deferring reporters to his legal counsel: Attorney Jay Kirksey with Kirksey Law Firm.
The Bolivar-based law firm specializes in representing victims of sexual harassment or misconduct.
Earlier this year, Kirksey said to the paper:
“The source of those allegations are young women who have troubled pasts, who have biases [and] prejudices, who have no credibility,” said Kirksey.
One of those women making allegations is Amanda Householder, 29, the Householder’s daughter.
“They threw me in an orange shirt, which is the lowest ranking shirt – they have a shirt system,” said Amanda. “Threw me on the wall. Standing on the wall, the only thing you can do is look at the wall or read your bible. You cannot go to the bathroom when you have to. I ended up with a severe UTI,” she says.
Householder goes on to detail some of the other things she claims to have witnessed at Circle of Hope as a minor.
“These girls had to walk around quacking like a duck. A girl who had her hair chopped off when I was there, she wanted to be a masseuse, so my dad would have her massage his head,” Householder says.
Amanda says she knows of multiple girls who claimed to have been raped or molested at the ranch.
The Cedar County Republican plans to share some of the victims’ allegations soon.
“We’re not done telling this story,” says Brite.
KOLR10 reached out to the Householder’s at a phone line provided by public record that is now disconnected. Attempts to reach Kirksey Law Firm were unsuccessful multiple times this week.
KOLR10 has also requested information from the Missouri Department of Social Services to find out how many substantiated claims of abuse have been made since the inception of “Circle of Hope”.