Lawsuit Against Bill Gothard and IBLP Amended

By M.K. Wiley, HA Editorial Team

As many of our regular readers know, a lawsuit was filed in October 2015 against IBLP (Institute in Basic Life Principles) alleging sexual misconduct by former president Bill Gothard during his time working for the “ministry” he founded. Specifically, there were 10 women alleging Gothard sexually harassed, sexually assaulted, molested, and/or raped them, often at one of his IBLP “Headquarters,” while they were working for him. IBLP runs the Advanced Training institute (ATI).

Gothard has denied all allegations.

As of August 18, 2016, an amended lawsuit has been filed against IBLP. Seventeen individuals are suing IBLP and Bill Gothard for “physical abuse, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment” during Gothard’s time as president of IBLP. The amended complaint contains 160 specific counts.

Attorney for the plaintiifs David Gibbs III was disqualified from representing his clients earlier this year due to a conflict of interest. The third amended complaint  is the first advancement in the case since Gibbs III was disqualified.

While Bill Gothard, now 81, resigned as president of IBLP in March 2014, IBLP continues to operate under a Board of Directors – moving their Headquarters from Chicago to Big Sandy, Texas, and leaving several of their former Training Centers empty across the country.

Gothard, too, continues to operate in “ministry,” with a most recent known appearance at Total Outreach for Christ Ministries‘ Overcomers Conference, held June 8-10, 2016, in Little Rock, Arkansas. Gothard presented his new talk on what he calls “The Four Fears,” a collection of Bible verses and quasi-science that is meant to counteract mental illness, which he now blames for low church attendance nation-wide. He claims to have developed a 3-step plan to solve mental illness, detailed on his new website.

The attached file is the public record of the filed lawsuit.

Gretchen Wilkinson, et al vs. Institute of Basic Life Principles, Third Amended Complain


  • This is because anybody who would still listen to him as a teacher DOES suffer some mental issue, as indicated by so doing. So, at least he picked an area to claim expertise in that is extremely relevant to his audience……. even though he seems to market it in a “Let’s talk ABOUT THEM” way as opposed to an “I’m talking TO YOU” way.

    All this is is an attempt on his part to insinuate that the almost 100% drop in his following is merely a mirror reflection of supposedly nobody going to church any more, either. Sorry, Mr. Gothard, but your unpopularity is exponentially greater than that of church in general. And this is not without reason. It’s like if his brother David was saying: “The only reason I’m in prison is because nobody is in favor of buying stock in companies anymore.” Whatever.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Gothard presented his new talk on what he calls “The Four Fears,” a collection of Bible verses and quasi-science that is meant to counteract mental illness, which he now blames for low church attendance nation-wide. He claims to have developed a 3-step plan to solve mental illness, detailed on his new website.

    What does the Duck say?

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Now it’s 17 plaintiffs with 160 counts — sounds like Bill Cosby.

    And who’s the new attorney?

  • Whoever the legal team is, they’ve hit the nail on the head in condensing the main essence of the abuses; the lawsuit’s counts are very succinct but each one packs a punch when it comes to content.

    What. A. Creepy. Outfit. And no, IBLP, I am not complimenting your clothes; I mean YOU. The navy & white jumpers were just another way of separating the slave class from the “right” of their master’s to free-wheel in taking THEIR prerogative. And these takings are aptly described as well as ascribed in terms of justice in this filing.

  • I am heartened that the new legal team, unlike the last, seems to really know what they are doing. I don’t have any expectation that a conviction in this case will change Gothard’s mind about himself and what he did (as committed as he has shown himself to be over time to his own delusions), but hopefully by that point his will be a very lonely voice crying in his delusional wilderness.

    Does anybody know whether it would be the county or the state to take this up as a criminal case should the evidence indicate it merits this course of action?

    • Most often, criminal sexual assault charges have to be brought in the criminal court of the county in which they took place, and the crime must have happened recently enough that the statute of limitations hasn’t run out (yes sadly there is a statute of limitations on sexual abuse and rape charges in most jurisdictions; this was a major reason why more priests were not prosecuted in the Roman Catholic Church’s many sexual abuse scandals.) If Gothard took any of his underage girls across state lines for “immoral purposes,” then the feds might get involved. But it would take a long, long time and be a long, hard slog for any of these cases to move from Civil to Criminal court; sexual abuse and rape cases are hard enough to prosecute in the best of circumstances, and these are not the best. There would appear to be a major lack of evidence and witnesses. Add in Gothard’s advanced age, and the fact that he is white, male, and “Christian” (basically the trifecta of privileged classes in the USA) and the odds of him ever seeing the inside of a prison cell are not good. I’d settle for IBLP and all of its associated ministries and leaders being bankrupted out of existence, and Gothard and his minions being forced to live the rest of their lives in oblivion, poverty and anonymity.

      • Your insight is helpful to me, re. the proceedings. Also you elude to the fact that Gothard did the predatory-isolation thing with his select victims in your mention of “lack of evidence & witnesses.” The thing is, though, is there ARE convictions that DO occur with much less victims than have come forward in this case. There is no doubt that these subjects of Gothard’s abuse are telling the truth; all the factors are there: unwillingness to come forward, feelings of shame & embarrassment, loyalty to the image they had to uphold, a great deal of personal grief & angst in facing what happened to them; plus these are classy ladies, ‘successful’ in life. (Just read their accounts on RecoveringGrace). These did this at a loss, not at any gain; they each had a lot to lose in coming forward. For those who got away from IBLP so as to attain respect, financial viability, & a personal identity in making their way in the world, it speaks volumes that any would even refer back to the time in their lives when IBLP was squandering all it’s minions’ aptitude for getting any of these things for themselves. IBLP has long been horrible enough to it’s own; it’s the Control Board that justice will serve in giving them a taste of their own medicine, already systematically prescribed to their minions.

  • A complaint really needs to be filed with the Bar Association against Gibbs.
    All he did was further victimize the victims and stall for time and in that time the IBLP was able to further get their ducks in a row…protect their assets.

    I don’t believe for a second he was there to truly serve the victims.
    He didn’t “play both sides”. He was playing for one side and knew what the outcome would be.
    The fact that he wanted Gothard reinstated shows he was NOT on the victims (his clients) side.
    What he did should call his license to practice law into question

    I also hope the case is made for Dr.Paine’s medical license to be revoked.
    He is a doctor, a doctor that KNEW that sexual abuse was taking place and did not report it.
    In fact, he helped foster an environment in which it continued.

    I hope the new legal team fully understand how insidious fundamentalism is and how these people will go to any length to protect it.
    I notice the lawsuit states Levendusky is a resident of Illinois.
    I’m not sure this matters but he is also one of Texas.
    They truly think moving the IBLP to Texas will solve their problems and protect them.

    And if anyone truly believes that the IBLP (it is NO accident that Gothard’s old travel buddy Levendusky is the new president) has cut ties with Gothard…I have tropical, oceanfront property in Montana to sell you.

    Gothard and the IBLP have ruined lives, broken up families, caused PTSD in hundreds and allowed horrific crimes against women and children to take place.

    It is time this organization was taken down. They might not be able to face criminal charges/punishment because of the statute of limitations.
    BUT they should be made to pay.

    As “howitis” said above…

    “I’d settle for IBLP and all of its associated ministries and leaders being bankrupted out of existence, and Gothard and his minions being forced to live the rest of their lives in oblivion, poverty and anonymity.”

  • Cynthia mae Curran

    I read more positive evangelical material like Corrnie Ten Boom that suffered under the Nazi’s for helping Jews. For home schoolers, the Hiding place is a great book.

    • And in having read “The Hiding Place” several times, it is very clear that Corrie would have likewise hid these girls to protect them from Mr. Gothard, his brother, Kenneth Copley & IBLP in general. The Nazi’s were into sexual abuse, too, & she hid Jews from them for this reason as well as because of “The Final Solution.” And, even if there were no Corrie in this scenario, that still would not have been reason enough to just skip having the Nuremberg Trials.
      P.S. I was homeschooled all the way through & yes, it’s a great book for anyone to read.

  • i was shunned my whole life because of ATIA after being sent home from headquarters for talking to a girl i had been friends with for a long while after meeting in Tennessee at a gothard seminar. she was from Grand Rapids and i was from Houston and we were just excited to see each other. I rode my bike up to gothards office and saw her in his office crying which made me angry that nobody ever called this guy on his bullshit so i barged in and told him he was out of line for what he was doing and if anyone should be in trouble for her and i speaking to each other it should be myself explaining that i had sought her out. Gothard had this sick little smile on his face and said my parents were expecting my phone call since they had already been informed i was being removed early from headquarters. I remember the feeling of those words and what they ment was in store for me very soon when i returned to the nightmare that was home. I felt relief in spite of that because if I was the one getting booted out then my friend was off the hook and wouldnt suffer the shame to herself and her family. When i said as much gothard looked at me with that same snake in the grass look on his fat little chomo face and said oh she is being removed she is being removed tonight for coming here and leading young men astray causing them to stumble as a result of the distractions of her worldly appearance. It took everything i had not to attack him physically . instead i told my friend i was so sorry i had got her in trouble and caused all this to happen and i never ment for it to . it was only that i was happy to see her. she just cried never once looking up but kept her head hung sobbing. i couldnt take it and looked at gothard and presented my middle finger about 8 inches from his face and spat on him before storming out and throwing my bike at the side of the building and walking back to the house i was assigned to tears streaming down my face at what i had caused to happen to my good friend. she had always been really kind and accepting of me. I never got to see or speak to her again. I really hope her life turned out ok and that shes doin well and that shes happy. . .matt

    • I’m so sorry Matt for your horrible experience and your friends. Our family was in ATIA and quickly got out when my oldest daughter had gone back to Indianapolis Training Center and half way through the week came down sick with a fever. She communicated to me that they had to fast all day Sunday, not by choice, they were not fed and had no other means of gaining food. The rooms were freezing and they couldn’t get any heat and there weren’t enough blankets to stay warm. After talking with the gals in charge I arranged to have her put on an airplane immediately and flown home. By the time I picked her up in Seattle and got her home her fever was 105 degrees. We worked very hard to bring it down. I received a call from Bill Gothard who showed no concern whatsoever for her condition but had the gall to threaten me with his tactics of “Fear of Loss”. That was the last day we had anything to do with ATIA. I threw out all their books. At that time I had no idea what else was going on but I knew he was not the Godly man we all thought he was.

  • I’m really sorry, Matt. You know now that you & she did absolutely nothing wrong. I really hope Gothard did not molest this girl, along with all the others, after breaking you both down.

  • Pingback: Trump Picks Longtime Disciple of Gothard Cult, Sonny Perdue, for Cabinet Position | Homeschoolers Anonymous

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