About the author
More posts by Moderator
1. Gothard insists that his thoughts and actions, including his close proximity to and touching of girls, have never been sexual in nature (though he has admitted in his public statement that such actions were wrong/immoral). 2. For years Gothard has used Gary Smalley as a human shield, to bolster his own image through association with Smalley’s well known kindheartedness. Though reluctant to jump into the fray, Smalley has given permission for his statement about these events to be shared publicly. The following e-mails are between Gary Smalley and Tony (the former IBYC staffer who was assigned to investigate the 1980 Scandal), and between Gary and Bill Gothard. 3. Gothard remains silent on his well-detailed and unrepented sins though the 1970s and the Scandal of 1980. The IBLP Board also remains silent, though they have a stack of evidence that will hopefully be featured in the soon-to-be-released internal report conducted by frequent IBLP conference speaker and friend of Bill Gothard’s, David Gibbs, Jr.
1. Gothard insists that his thoughts and actions, including his close proximity to and touching of girls, have never been sexual in nature (though he has admitted in his public statement that such actions were wrong/immoral).
2. For years Gothard has used Gary Smalley as a human shield, to bolster his own image through association with Smalley’s well known kindheartedness. Though reluctant to jump into the fray, Smalley has given permission for his statement about these events to be shared publicly. The following e-mails are between Gary Smalley and Tony (the former IBYC staffer who was assigned to investigate the 1980 Scandal), and between Gary and Bill Gothard.
3. Gothard remains silent on his well-detailed and unrepented sins though the 1970s and the Scandal of 1980. The IBLP Board also remains silent, though they have a stack of evidence that will hopefully be featured in the soon-to-be-released internal report conducted by frequent IBLP conference speaker and friend of Bill Gothard’s, David Gibbs, Jr.
The Northwoods Setting
The Northwoods began as a Gothard family retreat and was repurposed and expanded for ministry use as the ministry grew flush with cash. Steve Gothard’s cabin was built in 1973. The first (smaller) lodge was built in 1974, and the Big Lodge was built in 1976. As noted in other articles, the retreat featured an impressive runway for IBYC’s corporate planes. The property is maintained to this day, and IBLP is proud to feature beautiful pictures of the buildings and surrounding lakes and trees.
A former IBYC staffer’s diary notes that Steve was eager to build a cabin for Bill in 1976 (Steve called it “Willie’s Cabin”). Reportedly, Steve was motivated to keep Bill busy in the woods and away from the work center of the Lodge. The two brothers surrounded themselves with attractive, young secretaries in that rich and remote location.
An Email from Gary Smalley on August 9, 2007
Bill Gothard contacted Gary Smalley to ask him to help remove a reference on Wikipedia to a news article from the 1980 sex scandal that made public Gothard’s own sin. Smalley had to remind Gothard, in his response, that he (Smalley) could not make the claim go away because Smalley himself was the witness!
From: [Gary Smalley’s email address redacted]
Sent: Thursday, August 09, 2007 6:49 PM
To: [Tony’s email address redacted]
Subject: Re: Disqualifications of Teachers, James 3:1
I can now see why he is nervous about the “fondling and patting” statement on Wikipedia. I did see him with [name of secretary redacted] on his lap. She was in her thin night wear. And I told him the next day that if he continued, it could bring his ministry down. In those days, I was into protecting him from criticism. But today, it seems like everyone is going after him. I’m now glad that I didn’t do the curriculum with him.
Now I have to write him something. Lord give me wisdom.
Gary Smalley’s Letter to Bill Gothard
I think I found what you were speaking of the other night. Wikipedia…. “(Veinot et al. 2003, pp. 52-55) alleges that Gothard tried to cover up the scandal but “despite Gothard’s best efforts at containment…the story was reported in the Los Angeles Times.” In 1982 the Los Angeles Times also reported allegations that “Bill Gothard was seen by staff members patting and fondling women employees. Later, he admitted in staff meetings that these actions were ‘moral failures’ on his part.”[24
I am wondering how the current situation got started all over again after so many years? Are their (sic) pastors, Christian leaders or some of your followers investigating these allegations? It seems like so long ago, it amazes me.
And are these recent postings in Wikipedia? Sorry for all of the “dogings” that keep following you. You [taught] me that a leader is always being watched and held accountable for all his actions.
I think you know me well enough for me to say that my motives here are to try and bring glory to God from all of the “ashes” from the past.
Instead of me sending an email or letter to you sharing that “as far as I know from the girls I interviewed, according to them, Bill did not fondle any of them” But a more important question for me to ask you is, “what do you want as an end goal with Christian leaders and the body of Christ?” Is it just my opinion that you “didn’t fondle the girls?”
As I read the criticisms of you from many different Christian leaders, I wondered what your end objective is? Is it to add evidence that you didn’t touch any of the girls inappropriately? Remember I was one of the staff who saw [name of secretary redacted] sitting on your lap with her sheer night ware on. That alone was so inappropriate that a case could be made from just that one act I saw for you to take time away from ministry in order to be healed by God’s Spirit and renewed to purity. That one act would have taken Ted Haggard out of the ministry as his other actions did.
I am wondering what kind of legacy do you want to leave? What God has done through you is amazing, but you stumbled at times just like all of God’s leaders throughout history.
How do you want people to remember the steps you took after “failing” in your walk with God at times?
How can I help you reach your ultimate goals for your legacy????? Can we visit about this question the next time we talk on the phone or visit together? I would be willing to do that if the time is right in your life.
Thanks for entrusting this to me as a friend. God is faithful and able. It is He to whom I present this serious need and ask for His provisions.
Excerpts from an Exchange of Emails on September 18, 2007
Good morning Gary,
…My main concern is failing to warn someone who is asking for help and counsel. That seems to be a violation of ever[y] teaching in the Scriptures. Scripture is clear that we are to also be warning those who are not asking for help, lest their blood be on our hands (Ezekiel 33). More so for those who are seeking help.
…I was simply asking what counsel you would give to a Dad who is planning to send his young daughter into this close relationship with BG. And the only reason I was thinking of asking you for that counsel is because of BG’s recently asking you for counsel on that very question: How to erase or make go away accusations that he was caught with one of his young and attractive secretaries sitting on his lap in private quarters with her skimpy nightgown on, late at night. He wants someone to back him up that he never did have any moral lapses or that any morality weaknesses exist in his life.
Gary, as to your question about whether BG is involved sexually with any of his staff, it seems to me that he is quite involved personally and directly in the pursuit of this pretty little 14 year old, to bring to his headquarters office to work for him. How would it appear if you did the same next week?
My question remains: why does he not have a HR person working for these 70 ministries who recruits and trains employees, making sure they are avoiding all appearance of evil and working to keep him out of involvement with situations he has failed at in the past. Of course, no one on his current staff know of his past failures and likely do not know he was terminated recently in 1980 for this very failure and his deception and lying to keep it hidden from his Chain of Command.
I will, by duty to God, warn this church and this family and give to them some basic questions they should consider asking. That is the least I can do. For me to respons[d] that “I cannot help you,” or “Go pray about it on your own,” or “I can’t say anything lest I come under punishment by BG,” all seems pretty hollow and unChristian.
If you do not counsel against it from any spiritual or Biblical argument, I do think it is helpful to provide to many serious inquiries from pastors, parents and Christian leaders, a list of questions they can ask BG in their next meeting with him. Most of the inquiries I get personally are from men and women actually in meetings with him about one issue or another that has come up. BG can always choose to be truthful with them, or he can ask myself and others to stop answering people truthfully. Or he can someday choose to deal with these issues with his own true confession and acknowledgement of sin and resolve it before he meets God in person. I would much rather give a “good report” about this man and his ministry, but he seems quite unwilling to resolve any charges against himself and seems committed to trying to justify his deeds of sin and rebellion against the Word of our God.
I am enjoying Ezekiel 13-18 though it is most serious reading.
…Our home Bible Study is going through James verse by verse. James 2 is clear, “do not be a respect[er] of persons.” God is not a respecter of persons, judging all the high and the low altogether. That is why Ezekiel 18 is exciting for the worst sinner, and sobering for the most famous saints.
Blessings on you today.
Gary Smalley Responded
From: [Gary Smalley’s email address redacted]
Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2007 5:58 PM
To: [Tony’s email address redacted]
Subject: Re: 14 year year old new employee
I pray to God that if I ever do something inappropriate with a girl that you are still alive and you have my permission to go after me. You are the very best and Christ’s church is fortunate to have you. Yes, [name of secretary redacted] was caught by me “sitting on his lap in his private quarters with her skimpy nightgown on, late at night.” And you can quote me. But you have to add that Gary questioned her and all other female staff members close to Bill and all of them stated that he “never touched them inappropriately.” What you are [describing] is “inappropriate” behavior by Bill and the 14 year old’s parents should know this about Bill.
Blessings to you dear friend,
If you departed from the fear of the Lord that guides you today, I would come to you as a true brother, kindly, with great compassion, and with great pity, patience, and desire to beg you to consider righteousness (Jude 21-25). As I did for 1 1/2 years with BG. In the end he rejected righteousness and became blind and is incapable of seeing the Truth (I John 1:5-8). I do sincerely pity his soul and his great losses. Though I still pray and hope for his salvation. The rich man is much like a camel attempting to thread his way through the eye of a needle.
As to the deeds done in this case, many are tempted to call them “inappropriate,” especially the perpetrator! Scripture calls it by its true names:
–Lusting and adultery of the heart. Jesus said, “but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matt. 5:28
–Defrauding. I believe his operational definition is: “stirring up desires of the flesh that cannot be satisfied righteously.” Mic. 2:2; Mark 10:19.
–Making provision for the flesh. Rom. 13:14
–Breaking trust with the Dad and Mom who entrusted their daughter to a “spiritual man’s” care. Psalm 15:4; Deut. 22:28-29;
–Using one’s liberty (in Christ) as a cloak for vice. I Peter 2:11, 16
–Now, deception, lying and covering one’s sins. Prov. 28:13
It is hard to obtain forgiveness from God for “inappropriateness,” but it is quite easy and complete to obtain His forgiveness of iniquity if you agree with God on each point of our sin and rebellion toward Him. It is for this reason I completely hate the current terminology of Christian psychology and mushy thinking. It has hidden the Gospel’s good news of salvation from sin and sanctification towards God, without which no one will see the Lord! Hebrews 12:14; I Thess. 4:3-4.
Gary, I appreciate your giving me this freedom to quote you. I hope I do not have to, nor do I desire to do that. I will think this through carefully. I may find a way to make a strong statement or wording of a question that confirms there is witness to this, that will be sufficient for any Dad to work with. That is always my preference.
I will keep you posted on the decision this family makes.
Interpreting Smalley’s statement
Smalley questioned only a few of the women involved in the scandal, with very general inquiries, and they were not comfortable sharing their stories with him. However, he and his wife, Norma, were aware of severe issues. At least one woman confided in Norma, and it was evident to them that staff women were hired in part for their susceptibility to abuse. Some readers wonder how these women and other staff members could be so manipulated by the Gothards. A writer for the Wittenburg Door in 1973, at about the same time the cabins started going up in the Northwoods, phoned Gary Smalley for “A Small Interview.” (click to read) In that article, we get a glimpse of excitement of the ministry and the adoration the staff had for their dear leader.
Gary Smalley is a direct witness to Bill Gothard “seeing and touching” a staff woman’s private parts, if you would define private parts as body parts that can be viewed and touched through “a skimpy nightgown” of a staff secretary, sitting directly on top of his lap, at 11 p.m. at night, in the middle of the forest in Gothard’s private cabin.
This young woman’s father had not given permission for Gothard to be physically, emotionally, or romantically involved with his daughter. If your pastor did the same with your own daughter, you would not turn a blind eye!
Smalley eventually left IBYC in 1976, having been manipulated and cut off relationally by Bill and Steve Gothard. What had begun as one of the best experiences in his life (the ministry) became one of the worst. This crisis in faith would become a source of his future ministry. And the yearning to restore a close friendship with his old buddy, Bill Gothard, would work to keep him in Gothard’s orbit years later.
Meanwhile, Tony carefully interviewed, in great detail, each of the 15 staff persons involved in the scandal. That detail was examined by the IBYC (now IBLP) Board of Directors—who were Bill Gothard’s chain of command—and was the basis of their termination of Bill Gothard as President and Teacher at the ministry on June 5-6, 1980, only to have him retake control of IBYC a mere 17 days later. At the time of his dismissal Bill was awarded $25,000 and his car by the Board for his contributions to IBYC. It is still unknown whether he paid any of that $25,000 back to IBYC upon his reinstatement two and a half weeks later.
You may rent Bill’s Cabin at http://northwoods.iblp.org/facilities/cabins/billscabin/.
The Wikipedia entry in question:
Share this post:Tweet this Share on Facebook Stumble it Share on Reddit Digg it Add to Delicious! Add to Technorati Add to Google Add to Myspace Subscribe to RSS
More posts by Moderator
Want to donate to the Recovering Grace ministry? Do all of your Amazon shopping using the link below, and a small percentage comes back to us. Or you can donate directly via paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org. Note: Recovering Grace is not a 501(c)3, and thus gifts are not tax-deductible.