Bill Gothard and his abuse scandal escalated on Wednesday when ten more women filed a lawsuit against Gothard, a longtime leader of the Christian homeschooling ministry with close ties to the “19 Kids and Counting” reality TV family, the Duggars. According to the lawsuit, the women are accusing Gothard of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and rape. They are also suing the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) for negligence in responding to reports of abuse.
While Gothard denies any wrongdoing, according to a January 8 Investigative Fund report, the lawsuit reveals some shocking details about Gothard’s abuse that dates back over decades. The complete text of the lawsuit has been published.
According to the lawsuit, defendant William W. Gothard, an Illinois resident, was the founder and President of IBLP until he resigned in 2014 following first allegations of abuse. The lawsuit also points out that throughout the organization’s history, it has been “maintained, managed and controlled by a core group of male executives, management employees, and male directors.”
“From at least 1991 until the date of this filing, the CONTROL GROUP of the IBLP (with the exception of JOHN STANCIL AND ANTHONY BURRUS who recently resigned from the IBLP/Board), have failed in their obligation to protect young women who were present on the IBLP property as participants, interns, volunteers, counselees, or employees (through the IBLP’s various agents and employees) and that failure has caused harm to the ten (10) Plaintiffs named herein, amongst others, for reasons set forth in more detail below.”
The details that are being described in the lawsuit are a nightmare involving sexual abuse, sexual harassment, inappropriate touching of often minors who had come to the institute to receive counseling.
“Bill Gothard’s molestation of Ms. Wilkinson most frequently occurred while Bill Gothard was counseling Ms. Wilkinson in his home office. The home was provided by IBLP. … The molestation included Bill Gothard placing his hands on Ms. Wilkinson’s breasts and on her thighs – up to her genitals, while she was clothed.” Since Gretchen Wilkinson was a minor at the time of the sexual abuse, Gothard’s conduct is considered to be childhood sexual abuse, a criminal offense.
The stories of Plaintiffs Jane Doe I and Jane Doe II revealed in the lawsuit are even more frightening. Jane Doe I was sexually abused by her adoptive father, brother, and grandfather over years. When she informed Gothard of her physical, psychological and sexual abuse, she was told to “let go of her rights,” and to “stop being rebellious.” “Bill Gothard always made the abuse JANE DOE’s fault.” After Gothard told her that adopted children were a sin and that they had to go back to their biological family, she was kicked out by her adoptive parents.
Jane Doe II had been raped by her father and other relatives and sold for sex by her father through commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking. When she came to IBLP for help, she was raped by Kenneth Copley, an IBLP counselor and employee.
Charis Barker, another plaintiff of the lawsuit, was enrolled in IBLP by her trusting family at the age of six. When Barker was a teenager, “Bill Gothard also sexually harassed Ms. Barker by exposing himself to her.” Barker published the details of her abuse and how her father had taken her virginity at the age of seven in Charlotte’s Story: “I recognize that Bill didn’t take my virginity; my father did that.” But Gothard “knew what my father had done to me, but he called me into repentance for my own sins without confronting my father or addressing his sin. I was a temptation to men; Bill Gothard told me that I had tempted my own father.”
The 104-page lawsuit continues to describe Bill Gothard sexual abuse of other female victims and IBLP’s cover-up of the abuse. Gothard has never been married and so far only women have come forward to share their abuse by him. In Exhibit B of the lawsuit, Gothard writes, “I have realized how wrong and insensitive I was to only select certain types of young people, especially young women … I pray sincerely that God will bring healing to each individual that I have so grievously damaged.”