Did He Do It? – “The Cabin Story” and More

A particularly damaging account of alleged Bill improprieties in the 1970s surfaced publicly in the past 10 years called “The Cabin Story”. This account was actually included at one point in the official Bill Gothard Wiki until being removed for lack of foundation; the Wiki was subsequently placed in “protected status” by the Wiki organization to avoid irresponsibly submitted accounts.

As the account goes, well known author and speaker Gary Smalley, who was at one time on Bill’s staff, affirmed in an email to Tony Guhr that he personally surprised Bill late at night in a remote location with a secretary on his lap in her “sheer nightgown” some time in the 1970s. The story relayed in the Wiki identified the location as Bill’s remote private cabin in the Northwoods of the Michigan Upper Peninsula.

The account was naturally revived by the Recovering Grace organization and given top billing, showing aerial shots of the cabin to highlight its remoteness.  Additionally, Tony told us that this account is a primary reason he attested that Bill “fondled” staff women, a claim that was published by the LA Times in 1980; that this woman on his lap in that remote location with mere millimeters of clothing separating their private areas constituted “fondling” in his mind.  So it was and remains quite significant in the overall force of charges laid against Bill.

We contacted Gary in 2014 to seek clarification. Gary graciously interacted with us, and the information provided was stunning.  His comment was as follows:

Gary_writes_Alfred_About_Ruth

“Regarding the girl who I caught sitting on B’s lap, my wife is now telling me that she talked with this girl the following week and that the incident happened in B’s office in Oakbrook. She must have come to the office after she was ready for bed in her winter coat and that’s when I saw what I saw. I had told me wife about it the same day and as I said, my wife talked with the girl.”

We asked for clarification on the winter coat vs. “sheer nightgown”, but he subsequently backed away from those statements, stating several times – emphatically – that he has no recollection of what she was wearing.

Gary_writes_Alfred_About_Ruth3

“I’m the last person who should be giving any details about what “she” was wearing”

Ruth lived in a residence, a building separate from Bill’s office – the notion of any woman, especially Ruth, known for meticulous adherence to dress decorum, being out in the open in a nightgown at night would be unheard of on campus.

It remains possible that Gary was confusing another account involving the cabin, as some have suggested.  If so, this would have been second hand or worse since simple fact checking would have revealed that the Northwoods cabin was not even built before Gary left the ministry.  Those relaying the account should have known that.  He told Bill sometime in the last two years before the Lord took him home that at the time Tony Guhr recorded the “Cabin Story” from him, he – Gary – was extremely angry, and this may explain some of the confusion of what was written down.  Regardless of the reason, the account as promoted through several venues is false.

With respect to the woman in the account – “Ruth” of “Ruth’s Story” on RG – we understood that she had every expectation that her relationship with Bill would lead to marriage. Bill told Gary and others that he was “dating” her; he told us that she spontaneously jumped in his lap.

Gary Smalley: "No, he told me, Ruthie, that he was dating you."

Snip of conference call between Gary, Ruth and several others as published on RG under “The GOTHARD Files: 1983 Transcript”

Those familiar with his teachings would see a glaring inconsistency with what he taught, notably the physical closeness without being engaged or having spoken to her parents.  This was a primary reason for his confession of “defrauding” to the Board prior to resigning in 1980, a term he formally defines as “Raising expectations in others that I cannot righteously satisfy”, and which he overtly applies to typical “flirting” or dating behavior.  Regardless it was not anything resembling the unexplainable account that is even today published.  We have pleaded with Recovering Grace for years to correct the published tale, but they have steadfastly refused to alter it in any way.

Here is a signed affidavit that Gary prepared back in 2008 as a summary of his perspectives on Bill’s behavior toward staff women during the 1970’s and 80’s with which he was familiar.  Given that Gary was closely involved in all aspects of the ministry and especially in the tragedy of the sexual scandal with his brother, his willingness to testify in this way is significant.  And Ruth was one of the secretaries he interviewed in detail:

Gary Smalley’s Signed Affidavit

Another story that has made it into national newspapers is that in the 1970s Bill would make it a habit of giving good night hugs to secretaries in their nightgowns. This too is a peculiar notion, of secretaries out and about in their nightgowns in an environment known to meticulously police modesty to an extreme degree.  In August of 2014 we had a lengthy phone interview with Mrs. Linda Sergeena-Evangelista, an IBLP secretary that was hired in the early 1970s and worked closely with Bill and the other secretaries, actually living across the hall from Ruth.  When asked about this rumor she became quite animated and said that this was completely not true – “A lie from the pit of hell”, were her exact words. She clearly remembered Bill’s brother, Steve – who sexually compromised a number of secretaries including herself and Ruth – knocking late at night to see the girls after they were in bed.  It was her strong opinion that those rumors came from those instances.  She gave us permission to publish her recollections.

(Update 07/16/2016)

Continue to Did He Do It? – IBLP Board Action or visit previous in series, Did He Do It? – History and Scandal

48 Comments

  1. rob war rob war
    October 31, 2015    

    You are quoting Gary Smalley here, can you confirm this quote from him and is he willing to come on your web site and confirm or deny this? Again, whatever Gary saw or didn’t see, or his wife or anyone on else, doesn’t pale to all the other stories from young girls on staff claiming the Bill touched, stroked and played footsie with and what eventually he had to resign from his ministry over. You can’t have it both ways. If Bill is so wise as what his teaching was suppose to make everyone, then after the 1980’s scandal, he would have put into place safe guards which would not have allowed himself to be surrounded by young beautiful girls and alone with them. Billy Graham made it a personal rule that he would not step even on an elevator alone with another female that was not his family. Your constant harping in this one story which really in just one little drop in a big bucket of many many more of inappropriate relationships with underage girls on staff with Bill.

    • Moderator Moderator
      November 1, 2015    

      We cited a personal email from Gary – Gary reviewed this section before we published it. Gary has been quite sick in the last year, by some accounts having a 7-fold bypass operation. He is still recuperating. He mentioned that he may write out an account of his time with Bill at some point. However he appeared quite keen on setting this particular story straight, relaying the same information to several others who were his peers in that timeframe.

      • CV CV
        November 1, 2015    

        Seems like this is all hearsay! So and so said this and so and so said that and I will now tell you what they said and you will have to believe me because I am sooo honest that I would make this nice website to show how trustworthy I am.
        Just saying that this kind of stuff won’t ever hold up in a court room but you want us all to believe it? You really think the people who are not jumping to defend an accused spiritual leader will just take you at your word for what someone else said? WE ARE NOT STUPID! If Gary is to make a statement I want his statement not something from a delusional third party only wanting to repair the fallen image of their glorious leader, who in their eyes can do nothing with wrong intent. I call chicken poop on all this save face stories you have on here.

        • Moderator Moderator
          November 1, 2015    

          Strangely, Gary never made a statement on “Recovering Grace”, yet his third party emails were accepted as fact, not hearsay. This is a direct email to a member of our team. You need to decide if we are likely to lie about his more recent communications, especially given that that would fairly quickly get back to him.

        • December 18, 2016    

          CV” I call chicken poop on all this save face stories you have on here”(trying to picture the apostle Paul using this terminology).It appears to me your tone is not one seeking resolve, your bitter anger can almost be tasted. I have read many of the articles on the seek and destroy site and see the same anger and wrathful tone. My concern (if guilty or not guilty) is recovering grace people show no effort in offering the grace they tout. So much complaining about BG;s doctrinal errors, but I have yet to meet the man or woman that has it all perfect. For instance the gap between Dispensationalists and Covenant…Armenian vs Calvinism and a as the gaps widen the anger vitriol gains momentum. Anyone outside watching us fight surly want no part of what we preach and teach, they would fear joining with us thinking they might be the next victim we ravage. I have often wondered how many of the Bill Gothard haters spend any time praying for him…..

  2. rob war rob war
    November 2, 2015    

    I didn’t think Bill believed in dating but in parent approved and chaperoned courtship. Whether this story is true, whatever Gary saw or his wife etc etc., the basis that some single young girl is sitting in Bill’s lap whether it was a cabin or office shows that the standards he taught others he did not pracitce and the fact that he didn’t even learn his lesson from this and continued to touch etc etc young women in his employ and working for him shows the highest lack of judgement and hypocracy. I think for your credibility, the email sent from Gary needs to be published completely. Likewise Gary Smalley needs to publically come forward and state the truth.

    • Moderator Moderator
      November 3, 2015    

      The statement we published was the entire paragraph that dealt with this question. Gary is obviously free to do as he wishes.

      We acknowledged that this seemed inconsistent with his teachings, which back in that time period still included dating, but with the recommendation of the direct permission of the young lady’s father. Regardless, he told Gary Smalley and others he was dating her.

    • David S. Knecht Sr. David S. Knecht Sr.
      January 27, 2016    

      Rob, Bill Gothard’s position on dating seems to have followed the trajectory of very conservative evangelical how-to-find-a-spouse trends. Back when I attended my first Basic Seminar in 1981, Bill used “dating” as his term for romance between unmarried singles. Over the next couple of decades, Bill adopted the “courtship” model of parent-directed romance as the best model on the conservative evangelical market. Other models such as “betrothal,” surfaced, but I think Bill stuck with the courtship idea. I myself applied Gothard’s dating material back in 1981. It worked. Mrs. K did not spend much time in my lap neither then nor later, but otherwise things have worked out fine.

      Peace and love,
      David K

      • rob war rob war
        July 14, 2016    

        Hi Brother Dave,
        Yes, I totally realize that there were many more involved in the courtship movement than Bill. While I never read the book “I kissed dating goodby”, I understand now that the author has basically renounced it and regrets the ideas he promoted. The courtship movement and ideas may have had the best intentions of helpful people go into stable marriages, but the long term results does not bear witness to the intentions. For one, OT cultural norms of arranged marriages does not work in modern times. While I have seen courtship proponents use the example of Issac and Rebecca, they forget to realize that this was an arranged marriage between family members and the later conflicts between Issac and Rebecca does not attest to marital harmony over their children. One simply cannot pick and choose Bible times and think they will work now. The Bible also records polygamy and endogamy. Abraham and Sarah were half siblings. The arranged marriages of their children and grandchildren involved family cousins. Likewise the idea of parents picking one’s spouse is equally faulty. The parent does not live with your spouse, YOU DO. I am sure when you came home to Mrs. K, Mrs. K’s parents were not there, she was with all your children. Courtship likewise does not prevent the heartache of a brake up. When one is taught and pumped up with notions that the person they enter courtship with is the one they will marry, but if it ends, the hurt is only magnified, not lessen if it was a standard dating friendship. The idea of a quick fourth month time period is equally as bad. One thing I appreciate about the Catholic Church is that when one approaches the priest with the intent to marry, there is a 6 month waiting period from there, which implies that there was already time spent to get to know each other firsthand. The other part is the huge emphasis that one is marrying of their own free will, they are not pressured into it by others or an upcoming baby etc. etc. etc. The reason is that if one isn’t marrying out of their own free will and decisions, that can be grounds for an annulment with the Catholic Church. I think if the desire of the courtship proponents really for single people to make good choices in a marriage partner that hopefully will result in stable happy marriages, these extremely short courtships would have never been promoted because it defies logic. In the long run, it’s the couple that is marrying that should make the decision, not the parents, not the siblings, not anyone else. It is one thing to have family support, it is another to have one’s most important relationship outside of God made or controlled by others who do not actually have to live with that person day in and day out in the nitty gritty of life. While it may sound so great on paper, reading many of the testimonies of people that have followed this states otherwise and the courtship movement that swept through conservative evangelicals is a good idea gone very wrong. The reality is that it was not a good idea to begin with.

        • David S. Knecht Sr. David S. Knecht Sr.
          July 16, 2016    

          Dear Rob,

          I guess you and I are not very punctual pen pals. I think your 7/14 post answered my 1/27 post. But I just now found your 7/14 post.

          I never read that Josh Harris book which was popular for a while, and I didn’t know the author had a change of heart. But I would submit that the old eastern betrothal model probably does “work,” in its context, at least. Now and then, anecdotes surface about small, very conservative religious groups who practice betrothals and who seem to have happy and fruitful family lives. Admittedly these are fringe groups outside of mainstream American pop culture. We should also ask what we mean by “working.” Working compared to what? If the oft-quoted 50% divorce rate is true, then something is not working very well. Somehow Mrs. K and I have a divorce rate of 0% and holding.

          And thanks for the smile. When I came home to Mrs. K, the presence of her parents would have been a mighty suppressant to the libido. So much for grandchildren! But fortunately the in-laws weren’t so near at hand. So the grandparents got their grandchildren.

          I was unaware of the six-month waiting period for nuptials among Catholics. It reminds me of government waiting periods before buying a firearm. Is Catholic marriage as dangerous as a firearm?

          I wonder if some sociologist has studied the marriage questions we ask. Probably so. Are marriages better when a six month wait is imposed? How do they compare to arranged marriages among Hindu couples in India? Or among Orthodox Jews? Or devout Muslims? How do you control for all the variables?

          I guess Mrs. K and I had a waiting period of sorts. We met in February and married the following January. Do we get credit for eleven months of waiting?

          Speaking of Catholic views on marriage, did you happen to read the Christopher West book that Don Rubottom over at RG recommended to me last spring? It is about Pope John Paul’s marriage theology. I finally bought a copy. Mrs. K and I are enjoying it. So maybe soon we will appreciate Rome’s marriage theology. It looks pretty orthodox to a Methodist like me.

          Happily ever after,
          David K

          • rob war rob war
            July 17, 2016    

            Brother Dave,
            You are very funny. Well, I guess Catholic marriage or actually any marriage can be dangerous if one enters into it not knowing what they are doing or are serious about it at all. Marriage is serious business and it is sacred and ordained by God with one of it’s main purposes to bring children into the world. The other is the mutual support between spouses Yes, I am aware of other cultures such as Hindu and Muslim relying on arranged marriages as well as Orthodox Jewish communities. In Hindu and Muslim, they also have big issues with child brides and forced marriages of young girls so I don’t consider that has a model for Christian marriages at all. I think why there is so much divorce and marital breakup is much more complex than just blaming dating for it and coming up with the solution of either some kind of courtship or arranged marriages. I believe one first has to look at the laws and currently we have no fault divorce which means anyone can get divorce for any reason and any time. Now when something is legal, there is going to be more of the activity as a result. Hand in hand with this is the cultural shift in basic acceptable morality. The live in together before marriage has proven time and time again in different studies to create unstable relationships and more divorce, not the opposite. And finally and this is something I know you, Alfred and I would agree on, is the wide spread use of contraception. As you read Theology of the Body, I would also suggest and it will be a quick read is Humanae Vitae. Pope Paul IV had four predictions in Humanae Vitae which have proven to come true if there is wide spread use of contraception. 1. Increase in infidelity and society moral decline which includes a rise in divorce. 2. Lost of respect for women 3. Abuse of power by governments in control of their people (China one child policy anyone) and 4. unlimited dominion over one’s body and we see that in the rise of sex change operations and all the rest. Bill was one of the few Protestant voices against contraception use. While he has some different reasoning that the Catholic one, at least Bill was consistent when most of the rest of Protestant Churches caved in after 1930 with the Anglican church. Martin Luther and Calvin both taught it was wrong for marriage couples not to try and avoid having children. I think the high divorce rates we see lie more in these issues than with dating habits and customs.

          • Don Rubottom Don Rubottom
            July 21, 2016    

            David, I enjoyed this comment. But I will remind you that Song of Solomon 8:6 says love is as strong as death, so yes, it is quite dangerous. Like Aslan, such love is not tame, but it is good. I think the priests have a pretty good idea. Marriage should be a decision based on love with reflection, not immediate passion. Of course, the Law’s punishment for fornication is….marriage (if her father is willing)!

  3. Moderator Moderator
    July 14, 2016    

    We have made updates to this section, primarily to include a signed affidavit that Gary provided a number of years ago testifying to Bill’s morality with staff secretaries during the timeframe he was involved in the ministry.

    • Don Rubottom Don Rubottom
      July 21, 2016    

      I am extremely curious what events circa 2008 would have provoked Bill to ask for an affidavit from Gary? Such a documnet smacks of a very defensive posture. Of course, Bill himself has been reputed to sign affidavits that he himself refuses to allow into evidence because he was tricked into signing it by a lawyer he trusted..
      Did you confirm that Gary’s memory was better in 2008 than he claimed it to be in 2014? All these many years later statements seem as worthless as you claim the cabin story to be. Ruth’s story as relayed by Larne seems much more credible than all this other stuff.

      • Moderator Moderator
        July 21, 2016    

        The Cabin Story broke out on the Wiki and elsewhere in 2007, in large part because of Gary’s emails confirming it to Tony Guhr in that time frame. Even as noted, emails cited in the RG story, after Bill got wind of it he called Gary, pleading with him to correct the account . . . and, based on his experience and knowledge, affirm Bill’s innocence in charges of immorality. I believe the 2008 affidavit was in response to that, Gary attempting to rectify the error in some of the implications in some of his hasty responses to Tony. He had no reason to do so, other than his sense of honor and conscience, as he was formally, in every way separated from Bill.

  4. DJ DJ
    July 14, 2016    

    Fact #1: This statement was allegedly written almost 8 years ago, yet it was never made public until two months after Dr. Smalley’s death.

    Fact #2: Fact #1 makes it seems highly likely that the timing is due to the fact that Dr. Smalley would not have stood by this statement, as validated by fact #3.

    Fact #3: In recent years, Dr. Smalley made many negative statements about Dr. Gothard’s behavior towards young women, noting in particular his wife Norma’s disdain for Dr. Gothard’s abuses.

    Fact #4: This statement is not a legal affidavit because of facts #4 and #5.

    Fact #5: This statement is not notarized, the minimum standard of proof for authenticity.

    Fact #6: This statement does not contain the legal “signed and sworn” designation required of legal affidavits.

    Fact #7: This statement is allegedly “witnessed” by a long time employee and avid supporter of Bill Gothard.

    Fact #8: The verbiage and syntax used is very much like that of Dr. Gothard, making it highly likely that he was the author of the statement.

    Fact #9: The typesetting is the same as that of most IBLP document, further increasing the likelihood that this was created by Dr. Gothard or someone working for him.

    Fact #10: It would be extremely easy to forge a signature onto an image such as this.

    Fact #11: Dr. Smalley is not alive to confirm or deny this statement.

    Conclusion: This document is quite likely fraudulent and fake. If it is not, it is still legally worthless.

    • Moderator Moderator
      July 15, 2016    

      OR . . . it could be that Bill just found it in his stacks of folders. Which is what happened. He is completely unaware of our discussions here. And Robert Staddon . . . is very much alive, a godfearing young man, who would be happy to testify to the veracity of the document and its signatures. He was, at the time, Bill’s “MGA” (Mr. Gothard’s Assistant), I suspect (I know he was at some point) so a logical choice. Unless being a “long term supporter” of Bill Gothard makes it OK for you to lie. No, it isn’t.

      Since letters and emails – like from David Gibbs to Bill – seem to have no trouble becoming “legal documents”, I am guessing this won’t either.

      • Don Rubottom Don Rubottom
        July 21, 2016    

        Now you are scaring us, saying that Bill “just found it in his folders”. I wonder if this document is property of IBLP. I wonder why it was created in the first place. I wonder if the employee whose signature is on it could have manufactured it with a computer, like the fake George Bush attack piece that Dan Rather created, or even if Bill or another associate created it recently. Heck, you could have created it and slipped it into Bill’s folders for him to find! (unreasonable speculation I know, I am simply explaining the uncertainty that surrounds such a document and why it is unreliable as a court document. Why would Bill give it to you and not to his lawyer for use in his defense?

        • Moderator Moderator
          July 21, 2016    

          I wonder why it was created in the first place.

          Bill called Gary after the Cabin Story got inserted into the “Bill Gothard” Wiki, pleading with him to correct the account and its implications. The affidavit was apparently in response to that. Perhaps Robert can shed more light when he becomes available again.

          I wonder if the employee whose signature is on it could have manufactured it with a computer

          So, if you know Robert Staddon, you would know how ridiculous that is. His brother just got married, so he is preoccupied. I do hope to have him make a short statement. As stated, he remains an IBLP employee, so I am sure he will not be super wordy.

          Why would Bill give it to you and not to his lawyer for use in his defense?

          We are way outside of the scope of the pending litigation, so this has no bearing on that. Frankly Bill prefers to not debate, discuss, defend . . . most controversies disappear without comment because they have no foundation. In this case, the Wiki organization redacted the claim and placed the page in “semi-protected” status, where henceforth every change must be approved by a board. I guess that probably satisfied him. When RG revived it, it became a matter to deal with again. In 2014 Gary joined the “Denver Committee” working to right the mess and bring reconciliation, and it was during that time that we made contact with him. In the email response he sent, cited above, he asked that none of this go public but be handled through “The Committee”. He discussed it all with all of them, as several there testified to me personally. In the wake of the dissolution of “The Committee” and now his passing, it seemed the right time to bring such things out into the open. Nothing nefarious here. I mentioned to Bill that we had published our communications with Gary . . . several days later he said he had found a folder of Gary support documents. Hence the affidavit . . . and the email also published (there are other emails, but they are more personal, involved Norma, still living, so we were not comfortable publishing). As indicated, Robert confirmed the validity of the affidavit to me personally, actually getting quite excited that it was finally public.

    • Moderator Moderator
      July 15, 2016    

      How about this . . .

      Gary Smalley Email to Bill, 2014

      • DJ DJ
        July 16, 2016    

        I see four options:

        1. Gary Smalley is a two-faced liar, since he said the opposite in his 2007 emails that are published on Recovering Grace.
        2. Gary Smalley became forgetful in his later days.
        3. Gary Smalley wanted to stay out of it, so he told Bill what he wanted to hear.
        4. You/Bill/Staddon/somebody is forging emails.

        • Moderator Moderator
          July 16, 2016    

          1. Gary Smalley is a two-faced liar, since he said the opposite in his 2007 emails that are published on Recovering Grace.

          Nobody believes Gary to be a liar. He was similar to Bill in that he was less concerned with the details of the past than he was with the bright and exciting future before him. Like Bill I think he learned to put unpleasant things out of his mind . . . so far that he may at times been unclear in recalling the details later, especially in a hurry. At the time of the emails to Tony that was already over 30 years hence. He was extremely angry at the time he spoke with Tony and his mind brought together a number of things that, in fact, simply could not have happened. Norma is much more steady, and she finally corrected him when she was made fully aware of what had gone out.

          2. Gary Smalley became forgetful in his later days.

          Again, the cabin – “Bill’s Cabin” – did not even exist at the time Gary was there. This could not have been an eyewitness account back when he first gave it. We – and he – have much more confidence in the recollections of his wife, who loved Ruth as her own daughter. Look at Larne’s comment on “The Cabin Story” on RG, search on “November 9, 2015”, for his perspectives.

          3. Gary Smalley wanted to stay out of it, so he told Bill what he wanted to hear.

          After writing the affidavit back in 2008 – I believe it was after, at least around the same time – Gary was a featured speaker that the ATI conference. I was in attendance in San Jose/Sacramento (forget which California venue, which changed). I recall his heart warming description of his time with Bill, of the appreciation he had for him. That is simply not “stay out of the way”. At the time he wrote the emails to me he was heavily involved in the “Denver Committee”, trying to find a way to land the current mess . . . also far from “out of the way”. During that meeting he and Norma recounted these revised facts to the group assembled, we hearing this from two different participants. I have letters from him to Bill from that time, asking if Norma could intervene with the girls, speak to them to bring about reconciliation. So, no, that can’t be it.

          4. You/Bill/Staddon/somebody is forging emails.

          Well, that has the same likelihood as about any of the other wild accusations that have been hurled about of late. I have contacted Robert and he has privately affirmed the veracity of the affidavit. Whether I can entice him to make a public statement, we shall see. He remains an employee of IBLP and in the shadow of the lawsuit, there are limits to how chatty individuals want to be.

          • David S. Knecht Sr. David S. Knecht Sr.
            July 17, 2016    

            Brother, you raise an interesting point about authenticity. Though I am not an IT guy, I get the sense that emails are about as secure as smoke signals. So perhaps “forgery” is too strong a word for a phony document on such a non-secure medium. “Mirage,” maybe?

            The Gothard controversies seem to be based upon many claims. But does the weight of the claims reach the critical mass threshold to make them credible? Somehow I doubt Caesar’s courts are any less corrupt or more reliable than the court of public opinion. But at least an attack on Gothard is working its way through Caesar’s court. Perhaps that may help sift fact from fiction. As you posted on the lawsuit thread, some sifting is underway, as a couple more plaintiffs withdrew their claims. No telling exactly what that means, or what implications it hold for any of the other claims.

            I appeal unto Caesar!
            David K

          • Moderator Moderator
            July 18, 2016    

            emails are about as secure as smoke signals

            Of course emails can be forged. But highly unlikely without some massive effort, at least emails designed to deceive a recipient. On the charge that I forged the emails ostensibly sent to me from Gary Smalley . . . . there is a point where every person must make up their own mind, based on what they know of the character of the individual making a claim. I went sofar as to actually snap pictures of the email :-) . . . I did redact a few things that were not germain to the issue, but . . . them be they. As stated, Larne, who is not a Bill supporter and has nothing to gain by doing so, stated his personal conclusion on the matter . . . which mirrors what I know. Gary really messed up the account from day one. It remains that the event he witnessed was corroborated by his wife who debriefed Ruth the next day. And all the players are satisfied that his final statement on the matter is in fact the correct one.

            God’s work is never furthered by false accounts. They make the truth sometimes almost impossible to discern . . . whereupon nothing is fixed, corrected. If Bill had secretaries in skimpy nightgowns on his lap . . . it will come from some source other than Gary Smalley. It is time to shutter “The Cabin Story”.

          • rob war rob war
            July 18, 2016    

            I am curious, didn’t Gary Smalley leave IBYC in 1979. This email says 1976.

          • Moderator Moderator
            July 18, 2016    

            It was 1976. Cabin was, I think, under construction but not complete. I have very loose information on that. But . . .yes . . . he left right after he and several others intervened in some immorality that was going on with Steve, then took it to Bill. Bill says he heard them say other things than they intended . . . believed Steve on the salient points more than them . . . had at least one woman recant her story of immorality with Steve. In the end he was left with the sense that staff jealous of Steve’s position were trying to undermine him with half-truths . . . and in the wake of that he forced Gary out, leaving him extremely bitter. Several years later – 1980 – the full scandal broke involving Steve’s immorality with at least 7 women up at the Northwoods, porn, etc. The Board contacted Gary and asked him to return to get to the bottom of it as an independent agent. As part of that he interviewed all of the participants, which is what he referred to in the affidavit.

            But the right year for him leaving the ministry was 1976.

          • rob war rob war
            July 18, 2016    

            If one googles Gary Smalley’s name and read the various article about him, all of them state that he started his own ministry in 1979. None of them mention his time with Bill Gothard curiously even though he was there. Gary is also featured in the 1976 Gothard book and there is no mention in that book that he had left. While I didn’t read any of his books, I knew others who did and it was always explained to me that he left Bill in 1979 to start his own ministry. I am not asking about the defunct cabin story of where or when that happen but I agree with the others that that last paragraph does not sound like Gary Smalley’s language and does mentioning that Gary left in 1976. So there is a three year gap year that is unaccounted for which I find hard to believe. I am not accusing you of forgery here, I believe this is what Bill gave you. I know that Gary spoke at IBLP conferences, he was listed as a speaker. Have you confirmed this letter with Norma for authenticity since Gary is now with the Lord?

          • Moderator Moderator
            July 18, 2016    

            :-) The email is genuine. It was to and from the “MGA” at the time. But . . . look at his own affidavit, which is witnessed by Robert Staddon. You can see that he identifies his time with Bill as ending in 1976.

            I am going to be brave and send the entire email exchange between Gary and I up to that email to you privately. It is exactly as I received it . . . and in the redacted comments – which express his deep hurt and, at the time, bitterness toward Bill for how he treated him – you will see he again confirms 1976.

          • rob war rob war
            July 18, 2016    

            Alfred,
            after I wrote that question, I reread some of the articles on RG concerning that time and did confirm the 1976 date that Gary left the ministry under pressure. But again it was indicated in the article that Gary and another person did confront Bill about Steve’s behaviors.

          • Moderator Moderator
            July 18, 2016    

            Yes, they most certainly did. Which is the basis of the assertions of many from that time that Bill knew he was sexually compromised prior to later letting Ruth and other girls go up to the Northwoods to support Steve. Bill is adamant that what he heard . . . and what they were trying to say . . . were different things. He heard that he had “kissed and hugged four girls”. He and his father confronted Steve and he confessed to that, but denied anything worse. Bill and Dad believed him, disciplined him by sending him away to “learn to be a servant” at the Northwoods. And, from where he sat, Steve was repentant . . . and redeemed. Would to God it had been so. Gary knew it was much worse . . . and was understandably very bitter that Bill refused to take him seriously, taking his frustrations out on him instead.

          • Don Rubottom Don Rubottom
            July 21, 2016    

            Your response number 1 pretty well fully impeaches both Bill and Gary. Can we find some reliable witnesses. but you rely on the testimony of both. Not a strong case.

          • Moderator Moderator
            July 21, 2016    

            Your response number 1 pretty well fully impeaches both Bill and Gary

            You are an intelligent man and you know Bill and you likely have some idea about Gary’s trustworthiness. If neither man is trustworthy, there is no “Cabin Story” to start with, since it came entirely from Gary. And if Norma is the one recalling the details, having debriefed Ruth the next day in some detail, she is in fact another witness. No matter how you slice it, this story – Bill surprised in a remote cabin alone with secretary in sheer nightwear on his lap late at night – is dead. Larne elsewhere defends Gary’s character strongly, yet also, based on his discussions with the Smalleys and knowledge of his wife, comes to the same conclusion. If there is another “Cabin Story” that confused Gary, as has been suggested, it remains for other sources to bring it to light. If so, Gary, for one, was not witness to it or didn’t believe it to be reliable, or else one or both of the Smalleys would have placed that information into play in the “Denver Committee” meeting mentioned.

  5. David S. Knecht Sr. David S. Knecht Sr.
    July 24, 2016    

    Dear Rob,

    Yes, I am indulging in cute banter to keep things light. But your reply was more thoughtful and serious than my lightweight banter. Please indulge me a little further if I speak for my entire sex. Not know what you are doing as you enter into marriage? Show me the man who does! Read G.K. Chesterton’s terrific novel, Manalive. “Marriage is a duel to the death which no man of honor should decline.” At best, we men satisfy only one of your two terms for non-dangerous marriage (namely seriousness and understanding). The best we can manage is one out of two. Often we are quite serious, but rarely do we “know” what we are doing. Or am I just speaking for myself?

    Anyway, I like your analysis. I noticed that place in the Christopher West book when the Anglican church abandoned the old Christian standard which ruled out contraception in 1930. I never heard those claims about Luther and Calvin until you mentioned them over on RG, I think. If you’re right about that, I can see how that would carry more weight than dating practices among Christians. Add the legal and cultural things you mention and we see the bad results.

    Again, you’re right about Gothard. Among evangelicals, Bill Gothard has been one the few who held out against the popular contraception tide. Gothard has attracted enemies for a variety of reasons, but don’t you think the his big-family advocacy ranks right up there with his anti-rock-music views? People get pretty emotional about sex and music. So if people want reasons to hate Gothard, he makes it easy by challenging the consensus about sex and music.

    Dangerously married,
    David K

    • David S. Knecht Sr. David S. Knecht Sr.
      July 24, 2016    

      And hello to my fellow Narnian, Don Rubottom.

      Thanks for your 7/24 post.

      You know, sometimes that marriage punishment for fornicaton works out okay. A couple of my teenaged friends “had to” get married in 1976. Of course, their love baby is now a middle-aged man, and the parents recently celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary. From all indications, they are sound Christians.

      Aslan is not safe, but he’s good.

      David K

    • rob war rob war
      July 24, 2016    

      I don’t think that Bill “attracted enemies” over contraception or even rock music. I think for many detractors, Bill’s views on contraception were viewed as “out of step” with what is generally accepted among a majority of Protestants and for some like the Ron and Don MCOI folks, would make Bill “too Catholic” in their eyes. I think you have bought into this idea which I would consider rather bogus that Bill was hated for his rock music views. Bill’s teaching on rock music like he other ideas had a wide influence. There is a difference between “hating Bill” and issues and problems with his teaching. His early detractors had issues with this teaching especially over the chain of command and his heavy handed authority modes. I think the so called anger you might see on many different blogs comes more from those raised in ATI and how all of this screwed up their lives. You and Alfred would say that Bill’s teaching hasn’t screwed up your lives but consider this, both you and Alfred go to Churches that don’t teach Bill 24/7 and both of you have other influences that may have brought some balance that was apparently lacking with a majority of ex-ATI families.

      About this thing about knowing or not knowing what you are doing in getting married really works with both of the sexes, not just clueless males. I think what my point I was trying to make is that marriage is serious, should be taken seriously and with time given to get to know one’s future spouse to the best of one’s ability and to enter marriage with “till death do us part” as the goal, of one’s own free will and openness to children. And none of that can truly happen with quick parent arranged “courtship” ideas which I think is what we were dialoging about. So yes, marriage is very dangerous and yet very glorious because marriage is God’s idea and plan which I think you, I, Don and Alfred would all agree on.

      • David S. Knecht Sr. David S. Knecht Sr.
        July 25, 2016    

        I get you, sister. I submit that we may both be right (or equally mistaken!), because our opinions about Bill Gothard are really not mutually contradictory.

        Here is the basis of my contraception-and-funky-music theory of anti-gothardism: About thirty years ago, some large, orthodox, evangelical churches hosted Gothard seminars. Then came a shift. The churches began featuring funky church music, the denim-jumper homeschoolers departed, and were succeeded by suburban yuppies with 2.5 children per family. At about the same time, the churches withdrew their Gothard support. Association does not prove causation, but the coincidence is striking.

        There are plenty of other factors, as you say.

        I agree about the “too-catholic” criticism leveled against Gothard. That was one of the big complaints when BG came out with the “rebuilders” materials and took a hard-line anti-divorce position. That was also about thirty years ago.

        You are certainly right about the resentment among some former ATI kids. They shrink from hating the parents who made them do the ATI materials, but they feel free to assault a softer target. A politically correct thirty-something evangelical must profess love for Jesus and parents (fifth commandment). Butcha don’t hafta waste any love on Bill Gothard.

        Anyway, I think it is pretty lame to blame a screwed up life on BG. A good or bad childhood depends mainly upon me and my parents. When I become a man, it is my responsibility to filter the teachings I hear. If I embrace error and end up a loser for life, the man in the mirror deserves the blame.

        Yes, plenty of people dispute the teachings of Bill Gothard. Certainly no fewer than those who dispute the teachings of the Pope. But modern American Christians who dispute the teachings from Rome usually shrug and go join the church down the block from the Catholic church. Are there “recovering Catholic” websites out there? Maybe so, but I have not seen them. I wonder whether they generate the fervor we see on the Gothard sites.

        We love to stick it to our enemies. Probably, too many people enjoy it whenever a Catholic sex scandal surfaces. So maybe anti-gothardism his similar to anti-catholicism. At least partly. That never occurred to me before.

        Yes, I did attend a Gathered-ish Bible church twenty years ago. So I know what you mean about that. You make a good point about balance.

        Thanks for the smile about clueless young couples. Mrs. K and I had one of those moments a few days into our honeymoon. It was one of those wordless moments of long eye contact. Afterward, we both admitted that we were thinking, “we are totally out of our depth here. Are we crazy to attempt this, or what?”

        Anyway, I wish you and Alfred and some of the other DG participants lived in closer proximity. I wonder what it would be like to hash out some of these topics face-to-face around the coffee table rather than behind keyboards. But with me (and Don Rubottom?) down in Florida, Alfred up in the midwest and you (wherever?), that is probably too much to hope for until the resurrection. But if any of you ever make your way to the Tampa area, give me a ring at 813-973-8057. I’ll brew the coffee. If you make it down in the summertime, I have a pool out back, so we’ll go with cold drinks and sunshine.

        Your knight of the religious roundtable,
        David K

        • Moderator Moderator
          July 25, 2016    

          Would love to do that! Will definitely keep that in mind.

          • David S. Knecht Sr. David S. Knecht Sr.
            July 25, 2016    

            Fine, brother! Mi casa es su casa.

            Did you ever happen to read that little paperback Christopher West book I have been addressing with Rob and Don? It is really quite beautiful. It is also useful to a non-Catholic like me who has sometimes been curious about Rome’s seemingly rigid policies against contraception, divorce, etc.

            What lies behind the policies? Apparently they are far from arbitrary, but rather flow from a theology of man as God’s image-bearer. Rome seems to have devoted a lot of thought to the topic over the past couple thousand years. I hope that didn’t sound too flippant, because the Catholics treat this topic with the reverence it deserves. I am unfamiliar with the Roman catechism which is referenced, but the quotes sound fully orthodox to an Apostles Creed Methodist like me.

            I know I am straying off-topic from the Cabin Story, but that horse corpse has been beaten thoroughly enough, maybe? A topic shift from dead horses to life and love might refresh us.

            Your pro-life brother,
            David K

          • Moderator Moderator
            July 25, 2016    

            Did you ever happen to read that little paperback Christopher West book I have been addressing with Rob and Don?

            Have not. As a man with 11 kids . . . I have my own opinions on the matter, mostly formed before ever hearing Bill address it. The bottom line with “birth control” comes down to a very practical expression of faith, whether I or the Lord have the best wisdom to know what children are important and necessary, and which are unnecessary. That, at least, is how it became our burden. Nobody knows the power, the gift that is placed in a child until long after birth. As Bill has often said, if Jesse had decided that 10 was enough (7 boys, 3 girls), David would never have been born. Sobering thought.

            Why not digress even more. We have used BC on occasion – it is not a sin, and a couple must be in full agreement between themselves, more important than more babies. The smartest thing I have ever done was table my perspectives and assume responsibility for no kids during a period of time early on where my wife didn’t have the faith . . . emotions . . . health. With 11 kids I know that sounds bizarre. But we might have had 12 . . . or more. But it was the right decision and I – we – have never regretted it.

            And I look forward to seeing your casa one of these days :-) Thank you.

          • rob war rob war
            July 25, 2016    

            Brother David,
            which Methodist group do you belong too? I was raised in UMC. The creeds you are talking about (Apostle, Nicene) are from the Catholic Church originally in the early counsels of the Church ( Orthodox might say the same). John Wesley was an Anglican priest and actually didn’t set out to start a new denomination. Anglican as well as it’s offshoot Methodist retained the liturgical calendar. Arminian theology is closer to Catholic theology than some of the other Protestant branches (Reformed, Lutheran and Anabaptist). So I would imagine what you are reading, you would recognize and be more comfortable with.

        • rob war rob war
          July 25, 2016    

          I am probably closer to Alfred because I live in greater Detroit area. We also vacation in FL by Ave Maria which is closer to Ft. Myers/Naples area.

          • David S. Knecht Sr. David S. Knecht Sr.
            July 25, 2016    

            Dear Rob,

            Welcome to the neighborhood. I checked online and Ave Maria is fewer than three hours’ drive south of me, though I never visited there. Perhaps you will understand if I do not invite myself up your way near Detroit. My only impression of modern Detroit comes from Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino. Unfortunately, it is not a very favorable impression, and probably unfair.

            To sunshine,
            David K

          • David S. Knecht Sr. David S. Knecht Sr.
            July 26, 2016    

            Hello again sister Rob. Short time no read. I saw your 7/25 post. My church is UMC, though I am pretty new at being a Methodist. I joined my local Methodist church just last year during Lent. Odd timing, but they were receiving new members during Lent.

            How is this for flighty religion? Though I am now a Methodist, I attended a beautiful mass at my local Catholic church at Pentecost a couple of months ago, because I was disappointed that my own church was ignoring Pentecost in favor of a youth event. The mass at St. Mark the Evangelist was really nice, with also a ceremony for some recent confirmands. The incense was swinging and holy water was flinging. (I was startled to get sprinkled in the face.) Unfortunately I did not feel free to participate in Eucharist, once I found out that is reserved for Catholics only. I was tempted to sneak into the line on the grounds of don’t-ask-don’t-tell. (As a former Episcopalian I could probably have gotten away with it.) But I stayed in the pew and resolved to wait for the monthly Communion at my own church.

            Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst for Holy Communion once per month,
            David K

          • David S. Knecht Sr. David S. Knecht Sr.
            July 28, 2016    

            For anyone out there interested in the Christopher West material, this link I just watched gives a pretty good summary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0mX8cyrCQY

            David K

          • rob war rob war
            July 29, 2016    

            The Pentecost Mass is always wonderful, I’m sure you saw a lot of “red”. Yes, you were correct, communion is not open but to Catholics and the 21 other rites in union with Roman. Lutheran and Anglican does not count. While I a spent many years discounting my UMC background, I can now look back and appreciate a number of things that this Church did give me. UMC have some of the nicest, giving, non-critical Christians one can find anywhere. The Church is very service orientated and giving. When I was in the confirmation at 12, one of our field trips was down to the local Catholic Church where the priest gave a very nice talk to us. The purpose was to understand and appreciate other Christians in an effort to teach tolerance. That lesson has always stayed with me and it has always bothered me at college when I ran into the constant Christian bashing found with a number of evangelical student groups. The Stephen ministry which is a visiting outreach to homebound sick people was a God-send when my late father became homebound himself due to repeated strokes. This also helped my late mother as well. Very wonderful Christians.

  6. David S. Knecht Sr. David S. Knecht Sr.
    July 30, 2016    

    Dear sister Rob,

    Yes, there was plenty of red to see at Pentecost mass. Red banners with a dove emblem greeted you in the narthex, then more awaited you in the nave. I showed up in my red guayabera shirt, which seemed to fit the Latin spirit of the occasion.

    But at my UMC church, it is kind of church-calendar-lite. We observe Advent, then Christmas, blow past Epiphany, then pause for Ash Wednesday, and proceed to Easter.

    Your ecumenical-style confirmation fascinates me. My confirmation was in the Episcopal church, and the entire emphasis was on Anglicanism. You know — root, root root for the home team. I guess that is pretty common. Someday I would be interested in hearing of your journey from UMC to Rome.

    I am not familiar with the Stephen ministry, but it sounds well-named. I can see how much it must have meant to your parents. You never know when you will transition from strong to weak, but you would appreciate mercy once you get there. I myself am disabled with a brain injury from 1992, but otherwise pretty strong. My disability keeps me from operating a motor vehicle, so perhaps that counts as homebound. Fortunately, Mrs. K or one of our kids drives me around for errands. Meanwhile there is life to live and love to give.

    This chat about our churches may have little to do with Bill Gothard and the cabin story, but you sound like a nice woman and hope you don’t mind the diversion.

    Your red-blooded brother,
    David K

    • rob war rob war
      August 1, 2016    

      Brother David,
      I don’t mind the diversion. Maybe our moderator here (Alfred) can forward my email on to you and maybe we can talk via email which won’t divert the purpose of the blog here. I am sorry about your injury. Mr. W doesn’t drive either so I greatly appreciate the help our sons have been to us in our transportation needs. Maybe we can have a 3 way conversation with Alfred as well.
      peace to you and your family

      • David S. Knecht Sr. David S. Knecht Sr.
        August 1, 2016    

        Hi sis. For a former military officer, I have little security consciousness. We are all friends here on DG, so here is my email: dsksr@tampabay.rr.com

        I don’t do social media (though Mrs. K does when she is not quilting) so we cannot cross paths online except here and via email.

        I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thanks for the kind sentiments about my disabilities. Like the porridge in the story, my disabilities are just right. Not too hot and not too cold. I have plenty of “quality of life” as they say, without having to earn an income in the commerce market. Because my disabilities resulted from a military exercise, I get a plenty of “disability compensation.” Mrs. K and the kids are well taken care of. Along with home schooling, I get to peck out occasional posts on the Gothard sites.

        I take it Mr. W is a disabled brother, too. I hope his disability is not too serious.

        Your non-Facebook Luddite brother,
        David K

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