UPDATE:: More Plaintiffs Join Sexual Abuse Case Against Evangelical Ministry
Five women sued IBLP last October, and in January, additional women joined the suit. Gothard was added as a defendant at that time.
The second amended complaint, filed in February, includes the claims of nine additional plaintiffs. One of the new plaintiffs, Joy Simmons, spoke at length to the Investigative Fund and TPM about her childhood growing up with the homeschooling methods of IBLP's Advanced Training Institute, and the years she spent working at IBLP facilities for little or no pay.
At age 24, she was sexually assaulted near her home by a man from another ATI family, and sent to IBLP as punishment. "I was isolated with no one to help me leave. I was brainwashed into believing God would hurt me if I didn't do everything I was told to do," she said.
Shawn Collins, the attorney for IBLP, declined to comment on the complaint apart from pointing to IBLP's and Gothard's motion to disqualify the plaintiffs' attorney, David Gibbs III. They claim that Gibbs acted as Gothard's attorney for a time before the litigation was filed.
Gibbs disputes this account, calling the motion "utter nonsense," because "Gothard, in my opinion, is attempting to distract from the real issue. People who are sexual predators are good at this."
Gaffney also threatened to sue the people involved with the website Recovering Grace who, he said, "have posted false and defamatory statements within that website." Recovering Grace is a whistleblower site launched in 2011 to document the stories of former IBLP employees, interns, and volunteers, who say they were subjected to sexual harassment and other abuse.
UPDATE:: More women sue home-schooling guru for sexual harassment
The sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill Gothard, whose ministry preached the subordination of women to men, has grown again.
Now 18 people — 16 women and two men — are suing the 81-year-old founder of the Institute in Basic Life Principles, and the Oak Brook, Ill.-based institute itself, a once influential Christian ministry associated with the Duggar family from TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting.” Thousands of conservative Christian families have relied on the IBLP’s home schooling curriculum.
“It’s very similar to the Bill Cosby situation,” said the plaintiffs’ lawyer, David Gibbs, referring to the sexual assault lawsuit against the comedian. “More and more victims keep coming forward telling the same story.”
The story told in the pleading filed Wednesday (Feb. 17) paints Gothard and other IBLP leaders as manipulative spiritual authorities, groping girls as young as 13 and persuading them to keep the abuse from their parents. The suit also alleges that Gothard raped one young woman. One of the men suing alleges harsh physical punishment and emotional abuse from IBLP leaders. The other alleges that he was molested by a male IBLP counselor, who is not Gothard.
Gaffney said Gothard is considering a countersuit against the plaintiffs and the Recovering Grace website, on which many of them have accused their former spiritual guide. Gaffney said his client has been “left with little choice” because he “has been defamed, and the manner in which this has been done and how it all came about was a violation under Illinois law resulting in a claim for intentional affliction of emotional distress.”
Ten women on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Bill Gothard, who for decades was a major force in the conservative Christian homeschooling movement, charging him and leaders in his ministry with sexual abuse, harassment and cover-up.
Gothard, who urged Christians to shun things like short skirts and rock music, is accused of raping a woman. The same woman says she was raped by one of the ministry's "biblical counselors."
The lawsuit is part of a battle between dozens of women and the Oak Brook-based Institute in Basic Life Principles, which was until recently an influential homeschooling ministry, and its charismatic leader Gothard, who urged Christians to focus on their "biblical character" and have large families. Gothard has never been married.
Gothard, 81, resigned from the ministry in 2014 after more than 30 women had alleged that he had molested and sexually harassed women he worked with, including some who were minors.
New charges allege Illinois-based religious leader, with ties to the Duggars, sexually abused women - Chicago Tribune