Duggar Mentor Bill Gothard Accused of Sexual Abuse

By Shawn Paul Wood Comment

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Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse for the once-beloved Duggar family of TLC’s 19 Kids & Counting, new allegations emerge.

Meet Bill Gothard.

Besides being a minister of the Gospel and proprietor of a really crappy website, he’s also a mentor to the Duggar family. And how’s that working out?

A report from the Washington Post reveals that 10 women have filed a $500,000 class-action lawsuit against Gothard and some of his leaders based on allegations of sexual assault, harassment, and a cover-up.

The lawsuit is part of a battle between dozens of women and the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), 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.

Reached by phone on Wednesday, Gothard said he has not seen the lawsuit and denied allegations that he had raped one woman. “Oh no. Never never. Oh! That’s horrible,” he said. “Never in my life have I touched a girl sexually. I’m shocked to even hear that.”

Gothard denied sexually harassing women. “That really is not true,” he said. “I’d rather hold off to comment until I see what’s in the lawsuit.”

Some of the allegations can be read on a blog called Recovering Grace. This note is about the attorneys however.

One of the law firms representing the plaintiffs is owned by David Gibbs III. You may recognize that name because his father, David Gibbs, Jr., has a long-standing relationship with Bill Gothard and the IBLP organization.

In fact, it was Gibbs, Jr., who conducted the “internal investigation” paid for by the IBLP board in early 2014 (for a refresher of those events, review our response to the IBLP board statement from June 2014). Gibbs III has previously been quite outspoken against his father’s work, stating that it “helps cover for alleged and/or eventually convicted abusers, or the churches or ministries they work for.

There are tales and allegations on this blog from women who would come to IBLP’s centers seeking bible study and counseling, many of them victims of incest by their fathers or older family members, or who had been sold into human trafficking. And these women have come forward.

Gothard, 81, retired in 2014 but still oversees his namesake Institute of Basic Life Principles, which is a beacon of the national homeschooling movement. Also, in that circle of trust is presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and David Green, owner and founder of Hobby Lobby.

No comment from either of them. Yet.

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