Once again, the Duggar’s name is connected with a sexual abuse scandal and this time, or again, it is the Christian organization that they belong to, the Institute of Basic Life Principles, being under fire. Radar Online, Oct. 24, 2015, reports five women, Gretchen Wilkinson, Charis Barker, Rachel Frost, Rachel Lees and a Jane Doe have filed a lawsuit in the Illinois’ Dupage County Circuit Court against the Institute of Basic Life Principles. They claim the board of directors, John Stancil, Anthony Burrus, Gil Bates, Timothy Levendusky, Stephen Paine, and David York, enabled and covered up sexual abuse of their interns, employees, and people who were in the programs offered by the institute.
The five women decided to sue the institute because the board of directors allegedly tried to ignore the problem or sweep it under the rug, and they didn’t address the problem at all, even after they received numerous reports of “sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and inappropriate/unauthorized touching.” Even though the victims sent reports to the institute, their claims were never reported to the police or the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services as required by the state law. The lawyer representing the women, David Gibbs III, said the board “rather stubbornly and in my opinion rather arrogantly basically challenged the girls to bring the case.” The women are seeking $50,000 in damages, and the hearing is set for Jan. 19, 2016.
This isn’t the first time that the Institute of Basic Life Principles has come under fire for sexual allegations. Bill Gothard, 80, founder and longtime president of the institute was forced to resign when over 30 women and teens accused him of sexually abusing and sexually harassing them. Then earlier this year, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s son, Josh, admitted to molesting his four sisters and a babysitter. Bill Gothard came to Josh’s defense by claiming that Josh was simply a young teenage boy curious about things, but his curiosity changed as Josh Duggar, grew up and became addicted to porn, committed adultery and the sex he shared with the other woman was extremely rough.
The Basic Life Principles is supposed to be Christian based, but there are articles written by members who claim it is almost like a cult. One letter said, “ATI failed me. It failed my family. It took my parents in when they were vulnerable and hurting and dragged all of us down to hell with it. It promised happiness in exchange for dedication to rules and standards. It was a lie.” Apparently Bill Gothard was revered as a saintlike figure and members of the institute feared to ask him anything or come against him in any way. According to Recovering Grace, four of the women who filed the lawsuit wrote and published what happened to them in the Recovering Grace website. Although the writer’s names are not mentioned, they specifically mention Bill Gothard and the things he did to them. Their letters can be found Exploited Innocence: Sexual Harassment at HQ Part One, and the continuation of that letter Sexual Harassment Part 2: “Aren’t you making too big an issue of this?”, and Third Witness: Sexual Harassment at Head Quarters, along with A Call to Repentance, and also Another Witness; Sexual Harassment at Head Quarters.