Tues 5/14/2024 Springfield MO news conference

Victims of boarding school abuse speak out

They allege ‘horrific mistreatment’ at Stockton ‘school

Crucial criminal trial against two owners is set to  start this fall

Survivors beg MO AG to act on growing scandal & meet them on Zoom

Group also asks lawmakers to reform MO's ‘hurtful’ child sex suit deadline


Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, child abuse victims and their supporters will

--urge ‘witnesses, whistleblowers and other victims’ of abuse at a now-shuttered southwest Missouri ‘faith-based’ boarding school to contact law enforcement soon, before a crucial criminal trial begins this fall,

--speak publicly for the first time about the horrific experiences (including sexual, physical, emotional and educational abuse) they suffered at two controversial and barely regulated similar facilities in southern Missouri,

--blast Attorney General Andrew Bailey for essentially ignoring a letter they hand-delivered to his office last month which urged him to take three steps to protect kids at these institutions, and

--beg him to meet with and listen to them in a Zoom meeting so he’ll understand their pain.

They will also

--prod lawmakers, in the waning days of this legislative session (which ends Friday) to reform Missouri’s ‘archaic, arbitrary and predator-friendly’ statute of limitations on child sexual abuse, and

----urge anyone who saw, suspected or suffered abuse at any facilities like these to contact “independent sources of help, like police, prosecutors, therapists, attorneys, loved ones and support groups.”


Tuesday, May 14 at 1:00 p.m.


On the sidewalk outside the federal courthouse at 222 S. John Q. Hammons Pkwy (between Broadway and Washington) in Springfield MO


Three women who were sent to these facilities as youngsters and were severely mistreated at a southwest Missouri ‘faith-based’ boarding school.

One is Amanda Householder, a nationally-known survivor, activist and whistleblower who, in a highly unusual move, sued her parents for severely abusing purportedly ‘troubled kids’ at the two now-shuttered Christian reform schools they ran for years. The couple face a trial this fall on 100+ felony charges. (Amanda’s experiences have been profiled on Dateline, Rolling Stone, the Daily Beast, Dr. Oz and an Amazon Prime documentary and numerous media outlets.)

Joining them will be a St. Louis child sex abuse victim (and Drury College grad) who for 30 years headed SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests


1) Starting in 2020, dozens of former students of Circle of Hope Girls Ranch in Humansville (Polk County) have filed civil lawsuits alleging they had been raped, molested, handcuffed, chained, denied food and water and forced to stand in front of a wall for hours on end. Now, the criminal trials of those responsible are set to proceed after many delays and dissension between the Attorney General and the local prosecutor.  

In December, Springfield Federal District Judge Doug Harpool ruled in favor of the victims, who stated in their lawsuits “that officials knew kids were being sexually trafficked and used in slave labor at Circle of Hope and Agape reaped the benefit of that labor." Attorney Rebecca Randles of Kansas City said, "This ruling allows Agape to be tried for some of the suffering that occurred at Circle of Hope."

The civil cases were brought between 2022 and 2023, filed mostly in Springfield federal court. (One case, brought by Householder, was filed in Bolivar.)

Boyd and Stephanie Householder opened the ranch in 2006. It was closed in 2020.

2) The Householders are scheduled to go to trial this fall on 100+ criminal felony charges. Victims are urging anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered any kind of mistreatment at either facility to come forward so that justice will be done.

“We’ve seen prosecutions like this fail because wrongdoers often hire shrewd, expensive lawyers and exploit legal technicalities, while people with important information or suspicions don’t call police and prosecutors,” said David Clohessy. “We’d hate to see that happen here. This is no time for victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to stay silent or be complacent.”


Before starting the ranch, the Householders worked at Agape Boarding School near Stockton (Cedar County), which claims it “turns around rebellious boys,” and advertises, “…we strictly maintain discipline and security, while showing Christian love and care for the boys at all times.” 

In recent years, at least four abuse and cover up scandals have surfaced here and at other facilities in remote parts of Missouri. Dozens of such ‘under the radar’ facilities have quietly moved to or opened in the state, in part to avoid regulatory oversight. SNAP suspects that a) child predators are drawn to these institutions, b) many operators ignore or hide child sex crimes to boost profits, maintain enrollments and avoid public scandals and c) kids are still at risk of being injured and violated right now.

The group wants Attorney General Andrew Bailey to warn parents about them, start investigating them, urge local prosecutors to do likewise and  meet with and listen to them in a Zoom meeting so he’ll understand their pain and be more motivated to act.

Here’s a copy of the group’s letter LAST month to AG Bailey.

Similar facilities are in Greene, Dade, Taney, Jasper and Cedar counties, as can be seen here and here.

Some of the victims are represented by Kansas City MO attorney Rebecca Randles 816 510 2704, [email protected], who has dealt with hundreds of institutional abuse cases over the past 30 years.

Cara Richelle Rose (417 863 0400) has been Circle of Hope’s lawyer. Agape has been represented by two Kansas City lawyers, John G. Schultz ([email protected],816 421 7100) and Sean Sturdivan ([email protected]). Ty Gaither is the Cedar County DA (417 276 6700 ext. 235, [email protected]).

The “Troubled Teen Industry” is the subject of a widely-praised documentary series “Let Us Prey” in which Householder appears.


David Clohessy 314 566 9790, [email protected], Aralysa Baker [email protected]

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant