The Duggar family’s minister, Bill Gothard, drove 14 hours to attend the annual Big Sandy ATI conference in Texas, but he wasn’t exactly met with a warm welcome. The disgraced IBLP founder — who was accused of sexual abuse by multiple women — was taken aside by board members Dr. Tim Levendusky, Dr. Stephen Paine, and Gil Bates. They told him to leave the premises immediately, but the 83-year-old wouldn’t budge. He allegedly explained that he drove a long way and wished to discuss something with the board.
Later that evening, the group reconvened and Gil told them, “We love Bill, we are not going to hurt him.” Gothard sat down, expecting a conversation, but they remained standing and told him, “We are not going to talk with you — just present your papers so you can leave.” Eventually, the police had to get involved.
Those present at the conference took to social media to document what went down. “Bill Gothard showed up at an ATI family conference today,” one person wrote. “He was escorted away by the police.” Another added, “Bill Gothard is trying to be reconciled with IBLP, but is being rejected.”
The founder of the Institute in Basic Life Principles was fighting a $500,000 lawsuit after ten former female members accused him of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and inappropriate touching in January 2016. The case, however, was dropped in February. “Plaintiffs’ right to re-file and maintain a second action against said Defendants within one year is expressly reserved,” court docs obtained by Radar Online explained. The charges against the minister are troubling (to say the least). Three women claimed he sexually abused/harassed them beginning when they were age 13.
Recently, Amy Duggar spoke out against the minister. “I have to be honest, and true to myself by tweeting this. I do not support Bill Gothard and the Institute of Biblical [sic] Life Principles in any way, shape, or form,” she tweeted in March. “I find his ‘teachings’ extremely questionable. I am a Christian. I believe in God’s good Grace and freedom to be ourselves! God gave us emotions, personalities, and He wants us to live our best life. Legalism is the opposite of what my Bible teaches.”
She clarified in a separate tweet that she gets many private messages asking her about her views on the church, so she felt the need to “clear the air.” The Duggar’s connection to the controversial leader took center stage in the fallout after Josh Duggar‘s molestation scandal, as he went to “counseling” with Gothard.
In an interview with In Touch, a former member of IBLP named Rebecca Ishum opened about life in the “cult.” In his teachings, young people — particularly girls — are indoctrinated to blindly follow Gothard’s ultra-conservative teachings. “I was conditioned to believe anything that anyone in authority told me without question,” Rebecca told us. “Because of that, I internalized all of the teachings and brought them back home with me. So, for example, there are a lot of physical requirements with IBLP. The physical requirements weren’t enforced to that degree at home (I wore shorts as a kid), but by the time I got home from my time in the training center, I was wearing skirts all of the time because I had been told that I was immodest otherwise, and I didn’t want to cause myself to be raped. There is a lot of victim- and women-blaming in that cult.”
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