"If you are a Gothard survivor and have questions about legal matters, for example, if you should sue, what you can expect in the process, etc, I would like to invite you to contact me (email@example.com). I will find answers for you or try to put you in touch with others who can."
Last Friday we reported that the number of women suing Bill Gothard and the organization he founded, IBLP (Institute in Basic Life Principles), has doubled to ten. It looks like that number has now increased to fourteen.
Our friend Julie Anne Smith, who blogs over at Spiritual Sounding Board (SSB) has been in touch with the attorney representing the victims. Attorney David C. Gibbs III sent Julie Anne a note, which she published over at SSB. We are re-publishing that post below.
We will continue to follow this situation, and we want to encourage others hurt by Gothard to come forward. Julie Anne is a wonderful advocate for those who have been hurt by abusive ministries because of what she herself experienced several years ago when she was sued by her pastor for $500,000. Her crime – writing some negative internet reviews regarding her pastor, thereby challenging his hyper-authoritarianism. It was during this tumultuous time that Julie Anne reached out to us for support via e-mail. Dee was especially helpful and encouraging to a terribly distraught Julie Anne. Imagine being sued by your pastor for half a million dollars!
Praise God Julie Anne prevailed and immediately felt inspired to use her wonderful gifts through blogging. Dee and I so appreciate how she tirelessly works to focus on abusive ministries and other serious matters in Christendom.
We are praying that those who have been hurt by Bill Gothard (and others in IBLP) and have been suffering in silence will seek help. Some excellent resources are Recovering Grace, Spiritual Sounding Board, and our blog. We are definitely in your corner and want to help!
Bill Gothard and IBLP Sex Abuse Lawsuit Update (link)
Guest Post by Julie Anne Smith
Today, I received a note from David C. Gibbs III giving an update on the lawsuit. Gibbs is representing 14 survivors who claim Bill Gothard sexually groomed and/or abused them, and the Board of Institutes in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) failed to respond appropriately to the claims.
Today in DuPage County, Illinois, Attorney David Gibbs III appeared in Court before the Honorable Kenneth L. Popejoy representing the ten current Plaintiffs. Two different law firms appeared in the case on behalf of Defendants IBLP and Bill Gothard.
The Judge granted permission for the Plaintiffs to amend and expand their lawsuit to include at least four new victims (for a minimum total of 14). This current lawsuit will be closed to any new plaintiffs after February 17, 2016. If more abuse victims come forward after that date, they would need to file a new lawsuit.
The Defendants plan to file motions opposing the expanded lawsuit and the next status conference with the court will be April 4, 2016.
The Victims remain open to talking with the Defendants to avoid the necessity of a public jury trial. IBLP is not willing to meet with them at this time.
It is interesting to note that IBLP is not willing to meet with victims. For a Christian organization, I find that sad.
I am not certain of the exact number, but the Recovering Grace website has posted nearly 40 personal accounts of abuse and sexual grooming by Bill Gothard, so these 10 plaintiffs represent only a fraction of the total number who have come forward. Some survivors do not want to go to court because they do not want to rehash these painful memories. That is understandable. Some may have other reasons for not joining with Gibbs and the 14 plaintiffs. The timing may not be right. Just because Gibbs is representing 14 plaintiffs does not mean the rest of the survivors have missed their opportunity to file a lawsuit. I suspect there are other attorneys who might be willing to take the case pro bono and represent them.Note to Gothard survivors: If you are a Gothard survivor and have questions about legal matters, for example, if you should sue, what you can expect in the process, etc, I would like to invite you to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I will find answers for you or try to put you in touch with others who can. Sometimes when dealing with something monumental, it is daunting to even think about legalese and attorneys. You don’t have to walk this path alone. There are people I know who would be willing to help.