Recovering Grace, the website forum founded by disgruntled former ATI students 6 or so years ago recently released a statement on the dismissal of the 17 lawsuits which their fervent efforts represented a culmination of. Since many of the members of this team were banned from commenting there by way of response, we will make a few comments here.
“In late February 2018, we were told that, despite the merits of the case, the plaintiff’s attorneys had suggested that they discontinue their suit due to a couple of factors”
The two points cited are certainly true. The “emotional toll” has been evident all along, one that those cognizant of such things should have warned the plaintiffs away from. Instead, it was like recruitment to a club: “Come, join us, won’t cost you a penny, you can remain anonymous, may get a lot of money, and do your part to shut Bill Gothard down!” Now they know better. They have been forced to expose some of the most personal aspects of their lives through 30,000 pages of private chats they had to turn over as part of discovery. This displayed the detailed inner workings of Recovering Grace, the planning for the lawsuit and heavy role they had in it, and even unmasked the women that posted anonymously on the site. What’s more, the date they chose to drop the lawsuit coincided with the date given in the subpoena to turn over the contents of several additional “top secret plaintiff forums” that they had thought privileged. While even the peripheral documents given impeached them over and over, there can be no doubt that the additional information would have been all that multiple times over.
The toll was evident on members of RG’s team. The obvious toll on Bill, let alone on all of us supporting Bill and on IBLP staff and leadership, was life bending and staggering as well. About the only clear win here might be the legal teams. Which is usually how it works out.
The other point was true as well. The incoming plaintiff legal team – brought in after the former team was kicked off by the judge for misconduct – called the prior lawsuit “insane” and worked to resurrect it. They quickly learned they had gotten into something that was altogether unpromising. We were given clear hints months earlier that they were down to one, maybe two plaintiffs that they had any hope of getting through to trial – this on the “merits of the cases”.
As to countersuing, while it is a fact that defamatory statements cannot be pursued in court after a year from the point they were posted under Illinois law, that same law does allow that statute to be overridden for anyone who sues the aggrieved party. Meaning Bill would have been able to use all statements of “false facts” made in public, or in private chats with others presented in discovery, to pursue a remedy. Any plaintiff that consistently told the truth would have no fear. But accusing Bill of, say, “footsie”, a sexually charged term, or calling him a “pervert”, or even alleging “sexual harassment” would have come into play. None of those things can be proven, because they never happened.
In point of fact, Bill’s attorney has filed a motion in Circuit Court as of 03/28/2018 to ask the judge to declare the lawsuits “frivolous”. That is the legal remedy against those that file actions that have little to no basis in reality and exist primarily to punish the defendant, this by draining funds for legal defense and harming his reputation by pleadings that are themselves protected from prosecution. That is just wrong. There is absolutely no doubt that this is what drove the plaintiffs – with Recovering Grace behind them – into this ill-advised act. Bill’s defense alone has cost IBLP more than $200,000, and it is likely that the total expense will be more than a half million dollars. For those that hate IBLP, hate Bill, and perhaps hate their supporters, why this is a big win. For others, it is a crime all by itself.
“Bill Gothard went on a verbal offensive against the former plaintiffs and against Recovering Grace”
Yes, Bill has been busy trying to reach out to plaintiffs, trying to reestablish communication. There are scriptural ways to quickly solve the issues at hand. Somehow that seems more right than continuing to meet in Judge Popejoy’s courtroom. Some of our team has been busy reaching out to Recovering Grace and others that have continued to post defamatory statements against Bill, with a warning. The same warning we provided them years ago when they were posting falsehoods completely unbridled. Neither Bill nor Bill’s legal team asked us to do this, so we will take the blame. Or credit. Would to God they had listened.
“One of these statements exposes private medical and deeply personal family information about a former plaintiff who released a personal statement after the case was dropped—information gleaned by Gothard’s legal team as part of the discovery phase of the lawsuit and by Gothard personally during counseling sessions with the plaintiff several years earlier.”
Emily Jaeger “unmasked” herself as a plaintiff and then made a couple of large statements on Spiritual Sounding Board. On Bill’s behalf we asked if she would speak to Bill. We also then asked on his behalf to post a response on the venue it was up on. Both requests were declined.
Bill wrote the response we published, referencing the actual events that were in play as documented in public posts and private emails and letters. Even after this Bill asked us to relay to her that he would love to just talk, and take all of the statements down. Again, she declined.
For the record, I have in front of me Emily’s April 24, 2012 post to Recovering Grace wherein she tells her entire story. It is public record information, even though it was deleted some time hence as she and her mother tried to distance themselves from this action. So . . . none of this statement is correct.
“a website run by a self-described paid member of his legal team”
That would be this website. We are a team, nobody pays us, and nobody tells us what to do. Other than the legal team if they feel it jeopardizes the case. Both Bill and IBLP have sought to influence or alter us. While we listen to everyone, and we obviously support Bill, we proceed as the Lord directs. Indeed, we believe it was Bill’s ignorance of, indifference to the entire social media aspect of modern life that allowed this disaster of hatred and lies to reach this level of effectiveness. So, we feel it our responsibility before the Lord to help with that.
And, for the record, the “paid member of his legal team” was paid – at his request – an amount more than $1/day and less than $2/day for the privilege of assisting the legal team as a member.
And we might want to point out that the discovery docs show members of the RG leadership team positioning themselves to receive their own share of the “winnings”, an amount that, had the lawsuits all prevailed, would have been at least $400,000. This for the purpose of funding the website and its future activities. Also showed that RG had their own lawyer – referred to openly as the “Recovering Grace Lawyer” by the plaintiffs – actively engaged in supporting all aspects of the lawsuit that they could, signing most of the plaintiffs as clients. Information passing freely back and forth. To allege that Recovering Grace had essentially no role in the suit . . . is a lie. Dr. Cornish, please correct the record for your own conscience sake.
03/30/2018 – While we have not often been official bearers of first hand legal threats it should be noted that all such things are passed by the legal team before putting it out there. The lawyer reminded me today of the significance of this public statement by the plaintiffs:
“we are not recanting our experiences”
That states, for the public record, that all of the plaintiffs are declaring that all of their pleadings in the lawsuit are true. We believe – no, we know – that a large number are NOT true. Contradicted by their own statements in private chats. This statement – as of 02/26/2018 – suddenly opened a new one year window of opportunity to sue them for defamation, and now for every word in the lawsuit, previously off limits for that purpose.
We would plead with the plaintiffs: Please, for everyone’s sake, take your matters directly to Bill and figure it out. We will help you. A number of you declared in private that some of what was put into the lawsuit is false, put in without your knowledge. Yet in public you declare that you are recanting nothing. Now is the time to make it clear. Armed with the statements in the discovery docs, proving your “malice” against Bill is a simple thing, the only additional hurdle that a public person needs to get past to sue. Melania Trump won a good sized settlement last year against a blogger for a single statement, a morally degrading “false fact” that he in fact believed to be true. That and allegations of moral perversion that are in the pleadings are defamation “per se”.
You simply CANNOT state things in public that are false and designed to destroy another human being, let alone a servant of the Lord, no matter how much you disagree with him. The amount of money you have wasted in this frivolous exercise is staggering. So far every attempt to reach out in private has been rebuffed. No, it is not OK to just “move on”. You must correct some of the damage that you have done by false statements. Let’s make this straight and put this behind us.