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Dear Recovering Grace Reader,
Many of you are aware that we have run a number of articles in which young ladies have chronicled an unusual form of emotional and sexual harassment experienced while working for Bill Gothard at the IBLP [Institute in Basic Life Principles] Headquarters [HQ] in Oak Brook, IL. In addition to these published accounts, we have continued to receive emails and personal contact from other young women stating that this also happened to them or that they personally witnessed it taking place. Overall, we have received accounts of it happening as far back as the mid- to late-1970’s and as recently as this year.
For those who may not be aware of this ongoing problem, the pattern of behavior is more or less similar in each circumstance:
One of our hopes in bringing this behavior to light is to help put a stop to the sexual harassment and protect the many young girls who are still exposed to Bill Gothard’s wrong behavior. With increased public awareness and pressure, we have hoped that he would self-correct and make necessary changes to his hiring and workplace behavioral policies. However, we have heard that Bill has denied any specifics of wrongdoing, although he committed to avoid any behavior in public (such as hugging women) that could give the wrong impression. However, public behavior was never the issue. It’s his private behavior that is greatly concerning.
Within the last month, we have continued to receive emails that lead us to believe that this pattern of behavior is still taking place. One email mentioned a 20-something blond attractive girl whom Bill Gothard met while traveling, and he immediately offered her a job at HQ that was undefined as to scope and responsibilities. He never asked about her skills or previous work experience, but just told her repeatedly how beautiful she was, and that God had not made her that beautiful for nothing. She accepted the job he offered, having no idea what she would actually be doing.
Another email was from a friend concerned about a sweet but vulnerable, very beautiful high-school-aged girl whom Gothard had offered a full expenses-paid scholarship to attend one of his programs and then the opportunity to come work with him at Headquarters. The neighbor described the family situation and the girl in ways that fit the exact pattern Gothard appears to use to recruit his favorite young ladies, especially seeking out those who might be emotionally vulnerable.
There are more details that we are unable to reveal, but they are all nearly identical circumstances to many of the other stories that we have heard and/or published where he has brought a young lady up to Headquarters, and then taken advantage of her emotionally. While we cannot be positive of Bill’s intentions in these specific cases, at best his behavior has been shown to be exceptionally thoughtless and foolhardy towards young women, and at worst, it appears similar to predatory “grooming.”
Which begs the question: Why is this type of questionable behavior still taking place? There is no logical explanation why the 78-year-old male leader of a large Christian organization should be handpicking beautiful, young, female employees with no known marketable skills, for jobs that don’t exist. Additionally, to imply to these women that beauty is a quality needed for ministry/service is also highly superficial and completely inappropriate in any conversation, let alone a conversation which involves a job offer.
To our knowledge, the Board of IBLP has not taken any public action regarding this continued pattern of deviant behavior. We understand their personal loyalties to Gothard, but as fellow Christians, they must recognize that this type of behavior (or even just the appearance of such behavior) is highly inappropriate for any believer, let alone the leader of a Christian organization dedicated to following biblical principles. What Bill Gothard continues to do to these young women is not harmless, grandfatherly behavior. It is sinful behavior that negatively impacts these women for the rest of their lives.
We call on Bill Gothard to cease denial and suppression of the truth, and to publicly repent and turn from this behavior which is unbecoming to a minister of Jesus Christ. We plead with him to be willing to humble himself in this matter, and make a public confession and apology to the countless women whose lives he has affected.
We believe that no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace, and we will be the first to welcome his sincere, heartfelt repentance demonstrated in both word and action.
Please pray with us for Bill Gothard to acknowledge and confess the truth, and for the physical, spiritual, and emotional safety of these many young women.
The RG leadership team