CEDAR COUNTY, Mo.- The owners of Circle of Hope Girls Home and Boarding School appeared in court for a preliminary hearing Thursday.

Boyd and Stephanie Householder were under investigation by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office in 2020, leading to the couples’ arrest this March.

During the hearing, the two say together with their joint attorney as the State called deputies and investigators to the stand. They shared what was said in their first interviews with potential victims.

Victims told the court about reports of forceful restraints, food being withheld, and sexual abuse by Boyd Householder. The victims also shared they were weighed daily and were given quarter, half or double portions depending on the size of their bodies.

One victim described an incident where she complained of having a wart on her foot, and argued with the Householders when they told her it was just a blister.

She claims the Householders poured alcohol on her foot, then forced her to the ground, held her down, smacked her in the mouth, causing her to bleed. This victim, as well as others, reported Boyd would use pressure points to inflict pain as a way of getting girls to comply.

Two Cedar County Sheriff’s Office deputies took the stand and told the court the Householders would use duct tape to restrain the girls as a form of punishment and would cover their hands with socks to prevent the girls from self-harming.

The court also heard from a child forensic investigator who testified for one underage girl who reported having sex with Boyd on multiple occasions.

Adam Woody, who represents the Householders, argued the girls’ parents were asked to sign a contract that stated various forms of punishment allowed at the ranch. Woody claims some of the victims could be lying about what happened at Circle of Hope and were sent to the almost “boot camp-style” facility because of their behavior as a parents’ last resort.

The Householders will go back to the Vernon County Jail after the hearing. They were first taken into custody in early March after the Missouri Attorney General’s Office filed those 100 charges against them.