Judge Holds Hearing on Motion to Disqualify Lead Attorney in Bill Gothard Case

CC image courtesy of Flickr, Joe Gratz.

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

On February 5, 2016, the attorneys for Bill Gothard and the Institute for Basic Life Principles (IBLP)  filed motions with the Circuit Court of DuPage County, Illinois. These motions were to disqualify David C. Gibbs III from the court case Gretchen Wilkinson vs. Institute in Basic Life Principles, in which eighteen former employees and students are suing Gothard and IBLP over sexual abuse.

The motions featured two exhibits: sworn affidavits and documents that Gothard and IBLP believe show that Gibbs personally violated the Illinois Rules for Professional Conduct in his interactions with Gothard. Gothard’s affidavit, for example, included several emails between him and Gibbs that Gothard claims amount to legal advice. The other affidavit was from a witness who allegedly saw Gibbs communicate to Gothard that he would help reinstate him on the IBLP Board. The second affidavit additionally claimed that Gibbs offered to help Gothard derail the allegations against him.

Gibbs issued a statement in response to these motions on February 20. Gibbs alleged that, “Gothard was fully aware that I was the attorney for Lourdes Torres against Gothard’s protégé, Douglas Phillips, and Gothard was mentioned by name in that Texas lawsuit in April 2014.” While Gibbs admitted he is “guilty of aggressively representing my clients,” he denounced the motions as “a desperate attempt to attack the law firm that is publicly and legally holding [Gothard] accountable for years of child abuse.”

On Tuesday, May 3, Judge Kenneth L. Popejoy held a hearing on the motion to disqualify. During the hearing, IBLP’s attorneys denounced Gibbs for allegedly mishandling the case. Gibbs, in turn, argued that his involvement with Gothard was strictly on behalf of his plaintiffs. While Gibbs admitted that his goal was to get Gothard reinstated on the IBLP board, he claimed this was in order to better aid his clients.

HA obtained the official court transcripts of the hearing. You can view the transcripts here. Highlights from the hearing are listed below.

The judge will make a ruling on the motion to disqualify on Wednesday, May 11.


• IBLP’s attorney argued that Gibbs III was “working both sides of the street”:

Just very briefly, Judge, the problem is evident from Mr. Gibbs’ own brief where he admits he was, in the vernacular, working both sides of the street… At the very time that Mr. Gibbs is representing women who claim to have been sexually mistreated by Mr. Gothard while Mr. Gothard was in leadership at the Institute, David Gibbs, III, is helping Dr. Gothard get back into leadership at the Institute. That’s admitted. That’s not what is alleged. That is what is admitted. And also the reason for working both sides of the street is admitted, which is so when Gothard gets back in at the Institute, he can fund the settlement with my clients and me.

• Gibbs III “absolutely” wanted Gothard reinstated on the IBLP board:

THE COURT: But do you think part of the resolution or part of the pathway to resolution was in some manner trying to get Gothard back onto the board and dealing with the issues between Gothard and the board so that that issue would be done and set and then, given Gothard being back on the board, then having a resolution that could result in some satisfaction to your clients?

MR. GIBBS: Absolutely.

• Gibbs III denied the majority of the points in Gothard and IBLP’s affidavits

We won’t belabor the point, but I do want to say — and it’s in my affidavit — we vehemently deny the vast majority of what is in the affidavits. And both of them have begun by basically saying, you know, there’s statements that, in worst case, are perjury; best case, confusion, but the reality is the affidavits of both Gothard and Blair are factually unsupportable.

UPDATE, May 12: The judge has postponed his ruling on the motion to disqualify until May 20.

UPDATE, May 20: The judge has postponed his ruling on the motion to disqualify until May 31.


  • This is truly disturbing! Gibbs III should not be the victim’s legal representation. How could he want this abuser back in a position where he could abuse more children? His reason wanting Gothard back because Gothard was willing to negotiate is garbage. Once Gothard was back in power there would be no reason to really negotiate and any settlement reached would likely have included a gag order on the victims.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Does this mean The Fix Is In?

      • Yes.

        What Jason says is spot on.

        I have always had this feeling since the start of all this.

        The victim’s legal team should have NO affiliations with the IBLP or Gothard… At all!

        There has to be someone will to step forward and help them.

        What lawyer would think putting a RAPIST and sexual predator back in the position that allowed him to commit his crimes for YEARS, would give any resolution to the victims!?

        Jesus tap dancing christ!!

        They need a real lawyer (not one that seems to be in an ego match with Daddy) that will go for the jugular! The proof is out there!

        As more time passes the IBLP is just squirreling away funds and still putting out it’s destructive message and teachings.
        It is no accident that Billy’s old travel BFF, Levendusky was made the new President of IBLP.

        “And also the reason for working both sides of the street is admitted, which is so when Gothard gets back in at the Institute, he can fund the settlement with my clients and me.”

        I wanted to punch a hole in the wall when I read that!
        I still do, every time I re-read that steaming pile of s***!

        I truly wish someone would reach out to the victim’s.
        What is happening here is not right and certainly not in their best interests.

  • elizabethwysecook

    I agree with Jason. What in the world?????

  • upsidedownfishbowl

    I wish I was more surprised. this is an insidious cult

  • I can see the logic to Mr. Gibbs’ argument. Keep in mind that he didn’t originally include Mr. Gothard as a defendant and that the bulk of any settlement or judgment is going to come from the IBLP’s coffers no matter who the lawyer for the Plaintiff is and who the other defendants are.

    Also, the argument that the IBLP harmed the Plaintiffs with their bogus investigation is probably going to be easier to prove generally for all the Plaintiffs while proof of Mr. Gothard’s abusive conduct will be harder to prove for some defendants than others. Some if not all of the Plaintiffs may thing that anything that facilitates a settlement is desirable because it saves them the hardship of a trial, both emotionally and financially.

    As to Jason’s point about putting Mr. Gothard “back in” I agree it isn’t good in the short term, but I don’t think the IBLP will be around after the Plaintiffs (whoever their lawyer is) are done with them. At the very least the people that would donate money to them would probably give it to any new organization Mr. Gothard starts on his on as well.

    It was interesting to read the motion and the affidavits, which, to me, reeked of Mr. Gothard’s desperation to get “his” power back. There is a quote from Game of Thrones that came to mind. “He would watch the world burn to be king of the ashes”.

  • Paging Andrew Shubin!

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