The Josh Duggar legal troubles have focused a spotlight on the Duggars in general and also on Bill in recent days.  In response to an inquiry by NBC, IBLP issued a statement (https://iblp.org/news/response-media-inquiry).  The three ringleaders of the failed 4 year, $8.5 million, 17 plaintiff lawsuit against Gothard and IBLP, feeling a bit of wind at their back again, decided that now was a good time to come out and launch another attack themselves (https://medium.com/@frostyrach/three-former-plaintiffs-respond-to-the-institute-in-basic-life-principles-978d88d15872).  We were encouraged to not respond, but a few of the statements were difficult to stomach, so we will lift a few quotes and offer some perspective.  Some of these topics probably deserve their own OP.  Read the quoted comments in context in the link provided above:

As they begin, they accuse ATI of

” …physical and psychological abuse encouraged as child-training and counseling methods”

Bill followed the teaching of the Bible in the wise and restrained use of physical punishment to teach wisdom.  Most kids consider being rebuked for bad behavior “psychological abuse”.  ATI was guilty of supporting both of these, and it was not abuse.

“Gothard and Staff were mandated reporters and they heard many accounts of abuse of minors which they did not report.” 
“…they didn’t stir themselves to call civil authorities even once when he was allegedly engaging in sexual misconduct with staff and minors for over four decades.”

The recent massive 4 year lawsuit was the opportunity to get that on the table.  Those are things that carry criminal consequences.  We know for a fact that that was being discussed by these same plaintiffs as a cornerstone of the lawsuit.  What happened?   Apparently there was no evidence available in support because it was never pursued.  Stop making defamatory allegations that cannot be supported.

In fact, that second statement is blatantly defamatory.  I would hope that the three women making this allegation are absolutely sure they have the evidence to back it up.  IBLP and Bill emphatically deny that to be the case and for our part our team found no evidence in 17 years of looking.

“Sexual Abuse Counseling”

The women posted a diagram and several other documents used by Bill and IBLP when counseling victims of sexual abuse.  We have heard of many, as they undoubtedly have as well, who have through this found life long freedom from hatred and guilt, and associated mental illnesses.  They testify to this with great passion and joy.  Forgiveness is a powerful weapon.

A recent episode of “Forensic Files” detailed a woman savagely and permanently harmed by a serial criminal.  She survived, and though permanently damaged was stunningly happy when interviewed, living her life her way.  She said, “I won.  I forgave him.”  She could leave the man to God’s judgement instead of demanding vengeance.  That is the principle here.

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What is the alternative to this counseling diagram and the message in the other pieces they posted?  It is to tell the victim that God knew what was happening during the abuse, yet stood there and watched and did nothing.  Leaving the victim to decide whether the Lord is cruel, indifferent, or helpless.  There is no healing, faith ends right there, no matter how we talk around it.  No wonder the world is rejecting the God that Christians, eager to declare and claim a God-given human right to a long healthy, happy, pain and trouble-free life, are promoting.

Bill, in counseling, in the three publications posted and in many other venues, courageously and correctly assures the broken heart that God furiously loves us as He allows such tragedies.  And he explains precisely how that is the case.

A prominent Christian leader once told Bill that the reason for his effectiveness was his ability to “creatively explain the sovereignty of God”.  He boldly answers the question, “Why did God let it happen?”  Whatever he is, Bill is a believer.  And he is right.

The heart of saving faith says through the pain, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15)  An unbelieving world that rejects the sovereignty of God will reject Bill who explains it as well.  When Christians themselves fall into the pit of self-centered doubt we become powerful weapons in Satan’s hand “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy”.

“How about their widely-shared umbrella illustration? Women can’t even get to Christ directly. The whole “principle of authority” places men as superior in almost every situation, and is purely a social construct.”

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First of all, we checked with HQ and as far as anyone knows this diagram did not emanate from IBLP (if this is not correct point it out and we will edit the piece).  The umbrella, the way Bill draws it, represents a generic leader, focusing on the very real God ordained “super power” protection they directly provide for those under them.  It is drawn with the government as the umbrella, church leadership, or an employer.

Here are some personal notes, as the material was presented in the Basic Seminar in the 1970s.  Shows how submission to authority gives us a mighty advantage in standing against Satan’s temptations.  Highlighting the reasons we must pray for our authorities so their personal failures and weaknesses do not allow Satan an opening to attack us through:

Umbrellas are a protection.  The more protection you have, the healthier and happier you will be.  Walking out from underneath may not be the end of the world, but you begin to suffer the consequences of battling demonic influence directly.  Satan gets an advantage.  Which is frankly not very smart.

It has nothing to do with “getting to Christ” or even being “superior in almost every situation”.  Whatever conclusion we apply to other leadership as an “umbrella”, we may make nothing more of it when applied to a husband or father.  All three of these ladies know that.  They may not like the fact that God has granted specific authority to husbands, which is called “patriarchy” as a slur these days.  That is a different discussion, unrelated to “umbrellas”.

“IBLP may not know details on everyone who participates in their programs, but you can bet your jean jumper that they know about their “star” program participants, the Duggar Family”

The Duggars, as public as they are, have always lived their own lives.  Nothing about their show was ever cross-checked with IBLP or Bill specifically.  Indeed, the show revealed liberties in their private lives that might be frowned upon by some of the faithful.  We got to know them, got to know Josh, have loved them all over the years, but have little more to go on on the issues at hand than what is reported in the media.  I spoke with Jim Bob at some length a few years ago.  He avoided talking about Josh.  While much of their lives has been on display they expect their private matters to remain that way.  Mail us the jumper.

“IBLP knows plenty about their founder too, even if they would like us to forget about him.”

We have spoken with IBLP leadership repeatedly about their issues with Bill.  And they have repeatedly assured us that, despite whatever doubts swirled in 2014, they unanimously do not believe that he ever abused or molested a single girl or woman.  When they met with a jointly agreed to and respected mediator to seek to resolve the “Bill problem”, that pastor debriefed us afterwards.  He emphasized that IBLP never raised a single concern about moral issues when asked to put their issues with Bill on the table.  They focused entirely on Bill mishandling staff and associates, matters that they felt he needed to make right.  People offended, bad blood.

IBLP leadership and Bill are in a strained relationship at present because Bill is demanding to be reinstated and they are not sure that he will handle it to their satisfaction.  Perhaps the fact that current leadership has worked against him in the past figures into this.  His age has been brought up.  Our position is that that is God’s problem and not theirs to determine.  But it remains that the moral matters highlighted in the lawsuit are no longer on the IBLP radar.

“They were willing to call the cops on him for trespassing on IBLP property”

Yes, they were.  We addressed this in the piece, “Bill Gothard Went Down to Texas”.  That event remains a horrible black eye.  It was a power struggle, pure and simple.  Early on the complexities of the legal process were cited as they sought to enforce a “No Trespass” rule, but this event happened after that.  We believe they knew that the people, interacting with Bill, would quickly demand his reinstatement, and pull their support from IBLP if not.   

“They forgot to mention the nice income they have received from all the “apprenticeship” students who *paid* to serve at IBLP headquarters and training centers”

That “income” pretty closely matches expenses incurred by these ministry opportunities.  For example, one of our team had a son raise $2,000 to attend a one year program.  The $40 weekly stipend he was given for living expenses to go with the free room and food consumed that all by itself.

“No mention of Jesus. Just Bill”

The government is not concerned about Jesus, just about what a duly incorporated entity is supposed to be doing under Illinois law.  And that government purpose of IBLP was to support the ministry of one William Gothard, nothing else.  Hence the lawsuit.

“Check out the Recovering Grace website for some gut-wrenching personal accounts.”

Recovering Grace was an expression of “midlife crisis” for a generation of ATI trained young people.  The main organizer had severe OCD symptoms which he jointly blamed on Bill and his fundamentalist church.  Others had marital or kid or relationship or mental health issues.  They blamed him for their life problems and they were determined to take him down, no matter what.

Fact checking on RG was at a bare minimum.  If it sounded reasonable, they published it, as was shown as story after story exploded under the spotlight of the legal proceedings they were instrumental in setting in motion.  Check out the articles on our website for the facts.

“Plaintiffs turned over everything, including their entire Facebook accounts as legally requested.”

This one stunning statement was enough to make us get our pens out and craft a response.  Here is what we know:  For the entire time from the preparation to sue in 2014 to the closing days of the lawsuit in 2018 the plaintiffs and their Recovering Grace handlers collaborated furiously about the matters of the suit, daily, minute by minute, day and night on a host of social media venues.  First was Facebook Messenger followed by several restricted Facebook groups.  The group solely dedicated to plaintiffs and Recovering Grace legal folks was called “R2D2” and was how they coordinated their stories, media appearances, responses to legal inquiries (the name was supposed to throw off poor clueless non-Star Wars savvy IBLP types . . Like us).  After lawsuit discovery forced over 60,000 pages of Messenger chats to be turned over the plaintiffs started getting worried.  They then demanded that their law firm set up a new chat group on a protected server that they somehow believed was protected from discovery.  It was, of course, not protected.

The legal teams found repeated evidence of these additional venues and demanded them to be turned over.  ALL communications between plaintiffs and others relating to the suit or the matters in the suit are “discoverable” and have to be turned over to the defence.  The only exception are direct communications between individual plaintiffs and their legal representatives.  With as much impeachable evidence as was  gleaned from the Messenger chats the defense legal teams could only imagine what a treasure trove those chats would be.  After 3-4 fruitless demands the judge issued a pointed subpoena identifying most of the chat groups by name, with response required by February 18, 2018.

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Messenger chats between plaintiffs showed that they – including some of those crafting this amazing statement – hurriedly deleted large portions of R2D2 to avoid discovery.  One of plaintiffs stated in a Messenger post:  

To be crystal clear, ALL plaintiffs have withheld R2D2 on purpose”

One of them tried blacking out certain sensitive parts of the chats she did turn over.  These acts carry serious legal consequences.  On the day that every post was to have been turned over, all of the plaintiffs quit instead.  Citing “complexities”. 

The truth is never complex.  Had they and their stories been truthful even their private banter would have strengthened their case.  We can only wonder what they didn’t want the defense to see.  The Lord knows.

So, no, that statement is patently false.

“doesn’t mean any of us changed our story or felt less strongly about the need for accountability.”

Here is a challenge, sort of an acid test.

  1. The statues of limitations for defamation is one year after the most recent statement of a “false fact”.
  2. Publicly stating that “every charge in the lawsuit was true” starts the clock ticking anew for any charge that is, in fact, a lie.
  3. False allegations of sexual abuse, say claiming that Bill was doing otherwise ordinary things “in a sexual way” under standard definitions of law, are defamation “per se”.
  4. The truth is an absolute defense against defamation.
  5. Bill has started actions relating to defamation.  He wants to clear his name.

Given these realities, do the three plaintiffs hereby affirm that, as of today, every charge of sexual malfeasance against Bill in the lawsuit in their names – not changing their story a bit – is accurate as stated?  See, we suspect that if ANY of the charges had had substance their high powered secular for-profit lawyers would have gotten them the half million dollar pay day each and trip to New Zealand for a vacation in paradise they promised their recruits.

In weighing their allegations here are some actual statements the plaintiffs made, statements their law firm knew Bill’s defense was readying for trial:

“He [Bill] hasn’t done anything immoral like sexual abuse, as far as I’m aware”

“My story isn’t that big of a deal”

“I don’t like my name associated with the words “sexual harrassment” … maybe others who experienced much worse will speak up after this”

While we are on the topic, these three plaintiffs, by their own testimony, pulled this legal action together not for any damage to themselves but because of stories of alleged abuse that other women told that they believed simply had to be true.  They wanted to defend and vindicate them.

And yet the women they so wanted to protect silently disappeared just before interrogatories, one even before the final iteration of the suit was filed, which would have finally forced them to declare their matters under oath.  And, lo and behold, we saw evidence that some plaintiffs formally warned the legal team and others that some of them were, in fact, liars.

When someone lies Satan wins, nobody else.  We know for a fact that some of these ‘victims’ were skillful liars.  Incredible eternal damage has been done as a result, ATI kids and their families, IBLP alumni losing hope, in some cases abandoning not only Bill but all he taught them about the Lord.  They may not care, but we care, and we believe the Lord cares intently.  If they now suspect these women to have lied, at least on some issues, they owe a debt to the Lord let along the world that believed these three spokespersons to set the matter straight.

“There was not a protective or confidentiality order from the judge”

The judge allowed a number of the women to remain in the suit anonymously and their identities were indeed protected by such an order.  That is presumably no longer the case because most of the women ‘outed’ themselves voluntarily, and their lawyer identified the rest in a ‘victory photo’ when the women celebrated barely escaping not having had to pay for Bill’s legal costs.

“Victims have been asking to be heard, believed and validated for nearly 40 years within IBLP”

There are many actual victims of sexual abuse in this twisted world.  That being the case, alleging such a thing when it is not true so a woman can hurt a man she despises – or, God forbid, to get rich – is crime against them all.

Every woman has been heard.  In the media, in court, in 5 stuffed boxes of legal documents that we have in front of us.  They were believed, and a lot of people staked a lot of money on them telling the truth.  The validation would have been to stick to their guns and secure a jury verdict.  Their discussions in private corroborating their public statements, not contradicting them:

  1. One plaintiff alleged an immoral act in the suit, then said, “Well, that never happened to me” when asked by friends in private.
  2. One told others that they had “made it up” as a means of vengeance.
  3. One confessed that her tale of abuse in the lawsuit was actually a dream.
  4. One told the court that Bill molested her, yet when a policeman took a report told him that he hadn’t.
  5. One told a PI gathering evidence that the worst thing Bill ever did to her was “almost kiss me once”.

Those things damage the believability and rights of actual victims in indescribable ways.

And, finally, dragging us back 40 years: 

“The victims of the 1980s IBLP Scandal were shamed and silenced with very few avenues to seek vindication.”

And yet somehow we forget about the $4 million lawsuit filed on behalf of those same victims of Bill’s brother.  All of the women were deceived, but all were adults – and despite some early missteps in the investigation they were not shamed and they were not silenced.  Even though he had personally done nothing wrong, Bill even stepped down as President for a time so that things could be judiciously addressed.  It just ain’t so.

Much more could be said, but we will leave it there.

[The comments on this website, including this article, are our own.  We do not speak on behalf of either Bill Gothard or IBLP]