Bill Gothard: Duggar Family Minister Named In Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

Bill Gothard, who served as the Duggar family minister, was named in a sexual abuse lawsuit filed in DuPage County, Illinois. According to the lawsuit, the former Institute in Basic Life Principles minister is accused of sexually abusing and harassing 10 women.

According to the Institute in Basic Life Principles website, the organization “was established for the purpose of introducing people to the Lord Jesus Christ.” Founded by Bill Gothard in 1961, the institute provides educational programs, international ministries, prison ministry, public services, seminars, and training centers.

Although the organization served millions throughout the last 54 years, the institution is now embroiled in a ruinous sexual abuse scandal.

In 2011, a group of former IBLP members founded Recovering Grace, which is described as “an online organization devoted to helping people whose lives have been impacted by the teachings of Bill Gothard, the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), and the Advanced Training Institute (ATI).”

According to the organization website, more than 30 women have reported some form of abuse or harassment at the hands of Bill Gothard.

The Washington Post reports that some of the women were minors when the abuse occurred. As the statute of limitations has passed, many of the alleged victims are unable to pursue criminal charges.

Between 2012 and 2014, IBLP received increased pressure to address the allegations against its founder. Although he denied the accusations, Bill Gothard was placed on administrative leave in February 2014. One month later, he resigned from his position as president of IBLP.

In October 2015, five of Gothard’s alleged victims filed a civil lawsuit against IBLP and the organization’s board of directors: Anthony Burrus, Gil Bates, Timothy Levendusky, Stephen Paine, John Stancil, and David York. However, the lawsuit was ultimately dismissed because it lacked specific facts such as dates, acts and named perpetrators to support such claims.

Although the original lawsuit was dismissed, the plaintiffs were granted permission to file an amended complaint. Chicago Tribune reports the amended complaint was filed on January 6.

The 110-page amended lawsuit added five more alleged victims and added Bill Gothard to the list of defendants.

In response to the amended lawsuit, the Institute in Basic Life Principles issued a statement, which underlines the fact that the organization has severed ties with Gothard.

“Many of these allegations concern conduct that allegedly occurred as early as the 1990s, and, as claimed, primarily involved Mr. Gothard. Since March 2014, Mr. Gothard is no longer associated with the Institute.”

Although Gothard has denied the allegations of sexual abuse, he did admit his behavior toward woman and girls may have been inappropriate. In the statement, which was provided by Christianity Today, the IBLP founder asked for forgiveness.

“My actions of holding of hands, hugs, and touching of feet or hair with young ladies crossed the boundaries of discretion and were wrong… I do want to state that I have never kissed a girl nor have I touched a girl immorally or with sexual intent… I trust in God’s undeserved mercy and pray that those whom I have offended would find grace to forgive me.”

In addition to ministering the Duggars, the 19 Kids and Counting family considered Bill Gothard a close friend.

HNGN reports Josh Duggar, who admitted molesting five young girls, was sent to the Institute in Basic Life Principles by his parents, as opposed to facing criminal charges for his conduct.

It is unclear whether the treatment provided by IBLP was effective. However, the young man was involved in another scandal in 2015 when he admitted cheating on his wife. Josh Duggar is currently being treated for an addiction to pornography at a faith-based facility similar to IBLP.

Bill Gothard continues to deny the allegations of sexual abuse and harassment. However, his victims insist the former Institute in Basic Life Principles used his position with the organization to groom and ultimately assault numerous women and young girls.

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