On Tuesday, five women sued the Christian organization, The Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), founded by Bill Gothard, a close friend of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. The lawsuits are just a few of the many scandals that the organization has been involved in.
The Washington Post reports that IBLP, a former leading organization promoting Christian homeschool principles and religious beliefs, has been sued by five women, Charis Barker, Rachel Frost, Rachel Lees, Gretchen Wilkinson, and a Jane Doe. Each plaintiff is seeking $500,000 for alleged numerous infractions that occurred while they were members of the organization, including the board of directors acting negligently regarding their complaints, willfully ignoring them, and conspiring to hide the organization’s wrongdoings.
Earlier this year, Josh Duggar, well-known for his cheating scandal, was sent to IBLP to help “reform himself” from his alleged sexual addiction problem. Duggar’s rehabilitation comes just a year after IBLP was sued by 30 women, all of which accused Gothard of sexual harassment. Some of the followers of the organization revealed that Gothard was always idolized, and most people were afraid to question him.
Slate reports that some of the 30 women that accused Gothard of sexual harassment were minors at the time the incident reportedly occurred. Gothard ended up resigning from his position after the accusations, but was never held accountable for his alleged actions.
The newest lawsuit, filed at the DuPage County Circuit Court in Illinois, states that organization’s directors “frequently received reports” regarding “sexual abuse, sexual harassment and inappropriate/unauthorized touching.” Yet, the plaintiffs never reported their accusations to Illinois authorities, which is required by law in the state.
The plaintiffs decided to sue after they tried numerous times to solve the issues through the organization’s board of directors. Since the board of directors allegedly ignored the plaintiff’s requests, they are also named in the lawsuit. So far, IBLP hasn’t commented on the lawsuit.
Due to the overwhelming amount of women who’ve came forward and accused Gothard of sexual abuse, a website, Recovering Grace, was created for former followers of the organization to have a way to air out their grievances and get support from others. The spokesperson for the website, John Cornish, also stated that Gothard should be held accountable for his actions.
“Our goal and our hope is the same as it’s been all along — that they will be accountable for what’s taken place, that Bill [Gothard] and the board would repent, and that the victims will finally be acknowledged and taken care of in the right manner.”
IBLP once had a lot of support and followers after the Duggars’ hit television show, 19 Kids and Counting, shared the organization’s beliefs and teachings. Yet, IBLP has seen a sharp decline in support recently, especially after Josh Duggar’s surprising sex scandal which involved a pornography obsession and multiple extramarital affairs. Josh also admitted this year to molesting some of his female family members when he was a teenager.
Gothar, now 80, has always denied any allegations of sexual abuse and harassment. Since he is no longer a part of IBLP, he’s not named in the current lawsuit, but the organization placed him on administrative leave during a 2014 internal investigation which revealed that “Mr. Gothard has acted in an inappropriate manner.” However, since no criminal activity was proven, he was never charged for the incidents.
Meanwhile, the Duggar family is no longer filming their former hit television show, 19 Kids and Counting. TLC canceled the show shortly after the Josh Duggar molestation incident and cheating scandal surfaced.
[Photos by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images, Getty Images Entertainment & Wiki Commons/ILBP Staff]