Crime

Houseparents accused of sexual abuse at Eagle home for at-risk youth

A couple who work at a Christian program that helps homeless and at-risk children have been arrested on sexual abuse charges.

Michael Paul Magill, 30, and Jennifer Nicole Magill, 32, of Eagle, are accused of abusing two girls, ages 14 and 17, at the Christian Children’s Ranch, said Patrick Orr, a spokesman for the Ada County Sheriff’s Office.

The Magills were taken Friday to the Ada County Jail, where they were charged with sexual abuse of a minor and sexual battery of a minor. They are scheduled to be arraigned Monday afternoon in Ada County Magistrate Court.

“The abuse happened over the summer at the facility,” Orr said.

The married couple, who worked at the ranch for 11 months, admitted to having illegal sexual contact with the teens, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The Sheriff’s Office began an investigation Thursday after being contacted by ranch officials. Detectives were told ranch officials learned of the abuse from a family member of one of the victims. Detectives interviewed the victims, searched the ranch home occupied by the Magills and collected evidence before arresting the couple Friday.

Two biological children of the Magills, who also lived in the home, were taken into protective custody by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

The 80-acre ranch has provided a Christ-centered program for children up to 17 since 1946. The ranch is on Duck Alley Road off Linder Road, next to the Boise River and west of Eagle Island State Park. It has four homes for short-term shelter care and longer stays. Each home houses up to 10 children with a couple who serve as houseparents.

“The Christian Children’s Ranch in Eagle, Idaho, affords a safe and loving environment to children from circumstances that are disturbing to desperate,” according to the ranch’s website. “They come to us for many reasons, but each child needs the loving care of adults they can trust, and feel safe from abuse.”

No one at the ranch returned a call Monday to respond to the allegations.

Detectives are looking into whether there were any additional victims. The Magills also worked as youth group leaders and counselors outside of their work at the ranch.

The Magills were still listed as houseparents on the ranch’s website Monday morning, but their photos had been removed. Neither has a criminal record in Idaho, according to online court records.

Anyone with additional information is asked to call Detective Shellie Strolberg at 577-3788.

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