The Christian homeschooling ministry, Oak Brook-based Institute of Basic Life Principles (IBLP) first came to public light after it was connected to the Josh Duggar molestation allegations. The oldest son of the reality TV family behind “19 and Counting,” was reportedly sent to an IBLP training center when he was a teenager after he admitted to sexually abusing his sisters and another young girl. Now, IBLP is facing numerous allegations related to sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and even rape. In the most recent update, the former president of IBLP, Bill Gothard, is facing sexual harassment and assault charges of his own.
In the latest amended lawsuit, filed on January 6, ten women have come forward with allegations against Gothard directly. The women were sent to Gothard's institute for counseling, instead they reported everything from sexual harassment, inappropriate touching, hand holding, molestation, and rape. Most were fearful of coming forward with allegations against the leader who they saw as “god-like” or a “father figure” who could do no wrong.
Gothard started the ministry back in 1961. IBLP reportedly preaches a focus on biblical character, having large families, and provides support for homeschooling. In 2014, after more than 30 women came forward with reports of molestation and sexual harassment of women at the institute, Gothard resigned from his position with the ministry. In an article in the Chicago Tribune, Gothard denied the charges, saying, “Never in my life have I touched a girl sexually.”
However, the lawsuit filed includes an undated letter purporting to be from Gothard, stating, “I was very wrong in holding hands, giving hugs, and touching their hair and feet. I was also wrong in making statements that caused emotional turmoil and confusion.”
The institute appears to be trying to distance themselves from Gothard. The lawsuit even alleges that the institute is trying to flee the jurisdiction of Illinois by relocating to texas, and liquidated their Illinois-based assets. A statement released by the IBLP reads, “Many of these allegations concern conduct that allegedly occurred as early as the 1990s, and, as claimed, primarily involved Gothard. Since March 2014, Gothard is no longer associated with the Institute.”
An internal investigation by IBLP in 2014 reportedly found no criminal activity on Gothard's part, but did find “inappropriate behavior” and “sin.” However, none of the women involved were reportedly contacted during the investigation.
The lawsuit also lays charges against the institute, its employees and board members. According to the plaintiffs, IBLP employees and board members were aware of the sexual harassment and abuse allegations, but never reported them to law enforcement, as required by law. Other plaintiffs allege IBLP counselors also participated in sexual harassment or sexual assault.
Over the years, a number of other accounts of sexual assault and harassment were reported on a blog called “Recovering Grace,” reportedly from women who went to IBLP for training and counseling, and instead were sexually assaulted or molested. One woman who is also party to the lawsuit made sexual harassment claims against Gothard on the website, until she says he reportedly verbally assaulted her until she took the post off the website.