Eagle couple guilty of child sexual abuse face additional charges

Jennifer N. Magill
Jennifer N. Magill

A couple who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing two girls living at an Eagle ranch for homeless and troubled children were scheduled to be sentenced Friday — but the hearing was postponed due to new evidence.

Michael Paul Magill, 31, and Jennifer Nicole Magill, 32, were houseparents at the 80-acre Christian Children’s Ranch on Duck Alley Road, off Linder Road. In August, they were accused of abusing two girls, ages 14 and 17.

Christian Children’s Ranch Executive Director Cleve Cushing told the Statesman Friday that he had the Magills removed from the ranch within a few hours of the allegations.

Both Magills pleaded guilty in October to felony sexual abuse of a minor under 16, and felony sexual battery on a minor child 16 to 17. Judge Jason Scott rescheduled the sentencing on those charges to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 19.

Ada County Deputy Prosecutor John Dinger told Judge Scott that he wanted to hold off on the sentencing because he’ll be filing new charges against the couple on Monday. Dinger told the Statesman that new forensic evidence from a computer will lead to child pornography charges.

The Ada County Sheriff’s Office began a sexual misconduct investigation in August after ranch officials reported allegations made by one of the victims.

The Magills worked at the ranch for 11 months. The ranch has four houses for short-term shelter care and longer stays, according to the sheriff’s office, and each house has houseparents who care for up to 10 children.

The ranch, which is run entirely on private donations, cares for children with varied backgrounds, Cushing said. Some have parents who are incarcerated, others have been homeless. Some have behavioral issues. The ranch runs an accredited school, with grades 2 to 12.

Niki Forbing-Orr, a spokeswoman for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, said the Christian Children’s Ranch met all of the state’s facility standards for hiring staff, and the couple passed criminal history and background checks. Neither of the Magills have a criminal record in Idaho, according to online records.

Cushing said he thoroughly checked the couple’s work and personal references, and they were glowing. He said he obtained 12 personal references for them, including reports of their involvement in a Boise church youth group.

He said Jennifer Magill was previously a counselor who worked with children for five years and was one semester from having her master’s degree in counseling. Michael Magill, who has a degree in computer animation, ran the ranch’s computer network and was their webmaster.

The couple’s two biological children lived with them at the ranch, and those children were taken into protective custody by the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare.

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413, @KatyMoeller