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Missouri pastor wants money to help Circle of Hope owners

Southwest Missouri pastor urges people to help fund the defense of the owners of the Circle of Hope Girls Ranch accused of abusing girls in their Christian boarding school.

The plea comes as lawyers for both sides prepare for Boyd and Stephanie Householder’s preliminary hearing scheduled for Thursday and Friday in Cedar County Circuit Court. Already in court hearings, prosecutors from the attorney general’s office raised questions about the household attorney, who was indicted in 2019 for bribing a witness in a murder case.

Pastor Jerry Pyle of the Bible Baptist Church in Vernon County sent a note this month to “Circle (of) Hope and Boyd and Stephanie Householder” supporters. The couple – along with students at their Cedar County school – began attending church in June 2020 while their facility was still open.

“I know prayer is where this battle is going to be won,” Pyle wrote in the May 7 letter. “However, I think it is our responsibility to do what we can to help them cleanse their names from these false demonic accusations. We cannot do it alone. We absolutely need your help in your prayers, but we need your help financially.

Pyle did not respond to requests for comment on his letter.

At this week’s hearing, state and local prosecutors will detail their case against the couple, who are accused of 102 crimes, including rape, sodomy and physical violence.

Both have pleaded not guilty and are being held without bail at the Vernon County Jail. In his letter, Pyle said they were in “solitary confinement”. The couple said The Star in September after deciding to close the school that the allegations were all lies and that they would never harm a child.

Cedar County District Attorney Ty Gaither said in an email to The Star that the Attorney General’s office is handling the preliminary hearing and “the households will be there.” In other hearings, the couple were released from prison.

Pyle has visited households regularly since their arrest in March.

“I can’t begin to tell you how much it pains me that I can only see and visit these two faithful Christians once a week separated by a window while talking on the phone,” Pyle wrote.

“We were able to liquidate some of the assets of COH as well as some of the personal assets of Boyd and Stephanie,” he wrote. “However, we have neither the money to hire a lawyer nor the money to post a bond if it is fixed. We are now at the point where we need additional financial resources…”

The households are represented by Springfield attorney Adam Woody, whose own story was brought up by prosecutors at a bail hearing in March.

Woody is the subject of a felony indictment charged with bribing a witness in a murder trial and committing perjury, one of the two deputy attorneys general in charge of the ‘case.

“This case will likely be resolved before this one, and even if it isn’t, if I was an accused and my lawyer was indicted for bribing a witness, I would be worried that my lawyer would focus more on this, “the lawyer said. “And I would certainly raise this on appeal – that his attentions are divided. And if he’s found guilty of that and struck off the bar, then we start over.

Woody, whose lawyer told media his client was innocent, argued households were aware of the charges against him. And he said the AG’s office was using “scare tactics” to get him out of the Circle of Hope affair.

“I’ve taken in a lot of cases since then,” Woody told court. “And that will not affect our ability to represent… I have handled hundreds – hundreds – of cases since this charge was laid. Each defendant has been notified. I was able to effectively represent everyone.

Boyd Householder, 72, was indicted by Cedar County Circuit Court with 79 felonies, including six counts of second degree rape; nine counts of statutory second degree sodomy; six counts of sexual contact with a student; 56 counts of child abuse or neglect; and two counts of endangering the well-being of a child. One additional count of second degree pedophilia is a misdemeanor.

Stephanie Householder, who turns 56 on Friday, has been charged with 22 felonies, including 12 counts of child abuse or neglect and 10 counts of endangering the well-being of a child.

Households began attending Bible Baptist Church in Nevada in June, Pyle said, at least two months before authorities took the girls out of school in mid-August.

Bible Baptist Church is an independent fundamental Baptist church. IFB churches teach the faithful to separate themselves from the influence of the world. Some IFB churches have financially supported Circle of Hope over the years, and their pastors have recommended residential school for parents of struggling girls.

Like many other Christian residential schools across the country, Circle of Hope was inspired by Lester Roloff, the late independent fundamental Baptist pastor considered by many to be a pioneer in the effort to deliver wayward teens to Jesus. Roloff’s reform schools have been the subject of serious allegations of abuse over the years, including lashes and extended periods of isolation, and some that have been closed have packed up and reopened in others. States.

In a letter to pastors of support last year, Boyd Householder – whose now-deleted Twitter account was Gunslinger4God – said he wanted to explain “the attacks that are being carried out against us on social media.”

He blamed the problems on his daughter and stepmother, who he said had turned their daughter against them. Their daughter, he said, “determined that she would force Circle of Hope Girls Ranch to close.”

At Reduction of the household deposit hearing in March, Woody asked the court to release Stephanie Householder on her own pledge. He demanded that Boyd Householder be released on $ 10,000 bail, but said if that was not acceptable to the court, they would accept a $ 40,000 bond.

Prosecutors asked that the couple continue to be held without bail, but added that if the court was inclined to issue one, they were asking for a $ 3 million cash bond just for Stephanie Householder and $ 5 million for Boyd Householder.

Prosecutors said the households posed a flight risk as they received tuition from a number of students and received donations from churches to subsidize their ranch, which they said meant the couple had the resources needed to escape.

Woody argued that there was “certainly no evidence that they were going to pack their bags and leave” and said dozens of people were ready to testify to the integrity of the couple.

In his May 7 letter, Pyle said households brought Circle of Hope students to religious services and activities and the girls were participating in Sunday school and other youth activities. . On Wednesday, Pyle said, the church breaks into small groups for prayer.

“Each of our ladies took two or three girls to pray with them,” Pyle wrote. “There have never been any accusations of wrongdoing against Bro. Boyd or Ms. Stephanie by the girls in all of their interactions with members of our church.

Kansas City Star Related Stories

Judy L. Thomas joined The Star in 1995 and is a member of the Investigative Team, specializing in surveillance journalism. For more than three decades, the Kansas native has covered domestic terrorism, extremist groups and clergy sexual abuse. His stories about Kansas secrecy and religion have gained nationwide recognition.

Laura Bauer's profile picture

Laura Bauer arrived at The Star in 2005 after spending much of her life in southwest Missouri. She is a member of the investigative team specializing in surveillance journalism. During her 25-year career, Laura’s stories of Kansas’ child welfare, human trafficking, crime, and secrecy have gained nationwide recognition.

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