Abuse claims against Circle of Hope reform school settled

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Four civil lawsuits alleging sexual and physical assault by the owners of a southwest Missouri reform school have been settled.

An attorney for four former Circle of Hope Girls Ranch students told The Kansas City Star that the settlement amounts are confidential. The plaintiffs in the civil suits allege they were raped, thrown against walls and starved.

Two of the lawsuits were filed by women in September 2020. Those women listed numerous allegations that detail physical, mental, and sexual abuse by the Householders and their son, a teenager at the time of their stay.

In mid-December 2014, the Householder son told one of the women, who was 16-years-old at the time, to separate from the rest of the group, who were doing outside work, to sweep the floor of an unoccupied building on the property. The son later went into that house and attacked and raped her.

The second woman, who was 15-years-old at Circle of Hope, was promoted to be Boyd Householder’s secretary. Court Documents say 18 months into her time at Circle of Hope, she was promoted to Boyd’s “secretary.”

“Unbeknownst to her, this action was part of a pattern developed by Defendant Boyd Householder of placing girls that he hand-picked in a position where they would be alone with him and isolated from the other residents of Circle of Hope for significant portions of the day,” the document says.

Stephanie Householder, Boyd’s wife, allegedly knew there had been a pattern of sexual abuse by Boyd, where he appointed young girls to be his secretary.

Two more women filed civil lawsuits in October 2020. Those women also listed numerous allegations that detail physical, mental, and sexual abuse by the Householders. The third woman started at Circle of Hope in 2021 at the age of 14. Once she turned 15, she was sexually assaulted by Boyd Householder and was later promoted to Boyd’s secretary.

The fourth woman was 14-years-old when she went to Circle of Hope. Court records say she was sexually abused, assaulted, molested, and raped by the son of Boyd and Stephanie Householder.

“Within several months of Jane Doe IV’s arrival at Circle of Hope, while she was on an outdoor work duty supervised by the Householder son, he separated Jane Doe IV from the rest of the group of girls and sent her to the rear of an unoccupied trailer on the Circle of Hope property where she was told to clean. A short time later, the Householder son entered the rear of the trailer and sexually assaulted Jane Doe IV,” court documents say.

Civil Lawsuits for Circle of Hope

About two dozen girls were removed from the Christian boarding school last year during an investigation into abuse allegations.

The Householders now face 100 criminal charges, including statutory rape, sodomy, physical abuse and neglect.

In July, Governor Mike Parson signed House Bill 577 into law. That bill requires background checks for employees at boarding schools.

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