Couple accused of reform school abuses released from prison
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A southwest Missouri couple facing multiple charges of abuse against girls at a Christian reform school have been released from jail and placed on home confinement after they reported health issues.
In a bond hearing on Friday, Circuit Judge David Munton released Boyd and Stephanie Householder from the Cedar County jail after setting a $10,000 bond for the couple. They will be on house arrest with GPS monitoring pending their trial, The Kansas City Star reported.
The couple's attorney said in a court filings that Boyd Householder, 72, has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and Beth Householder, 56, has a serious blood clot disorder that might cause her to lose her foot.
Attorney Adam Woody said the couple needs medical care that county jails cannot provide.
The Householders have been accused of statutory rape, sodomy, physical abuse and neglect against girls at the Circle of Hope Girls Ranch they operated near Humansville. They pleaded not guilty in March.
The Missouri Attorney General's Office argued in its response to the request for Friday's bond hearing that no medical documentation or doctor's diagnosis had been provided to confirm the couple's health issues or their need for extra medical care.
Prosecutors have argued in the past against releasing the Householders, saying they are a flight risk and a danger to the community and their alleged victims.
A woman who attended Circle of Hope from October 2007 to January 2013 said she was "shocked and horrified" that the couple was released.
"I thought they would be in custody until the trial. … I'm worried that they are going to run or start targeting girls," said Maggie Drew.
Circle of Hope was closed after about two dozen girls were removed during an investigation into the allegations last summer.
Four lawsuits filed by former students against the school have been settled. The girls alleged in the lawsuits that they were raped, thrown against walls, forced to eat until they vomited and starved by the Householders.
Residential religious care facilities were exempted from state licensure requirements. Prompted by the Circle of Hope allegations, Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed a bill this month to regulate the unlicensed schools.