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Dear Recovering Grace Reader,
Late yesterday afternoon we received an email from a Texas-based law firm notifying us that a lawsuit had been filed against the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) and its current board members, John Stancil, Anthony Burrus, Gil Bates, Timothy Levendusky, Stephen Paine, and David York. The lawsuit (which we have reviewed in its entirety) was filed by five women who allege they experienced “sexual abuse, sexual harassment and inappropriate/unauthorized touching” while “participants, interns, or employees of IBLP.” Four of the plaintiffs have previously published their accounts here on Recovering Grace.
One of the law firms representing the plaintiffs is owned by David Gibbs III. You may recognize that name because his father, David Gibbs, Jr., has a long-standing relationship with Bill Gothard and the IBLP organization. In fact, it was Gibbs, Jr., who conducted the “internal investigation” paid for by the IBLP board in early 2014 (for a refresher of those events, review our response to the IBLP board statement from June 2014). Gibbs III has previously been quite outspoken against his father’s work, stating that it “helps cover for alleged and/or eventually convicted abusers, or the churches or ministries they work for.”
The lawsuit, which was filed in the Circuit Court for Dupage County (Illinois), alleges that IBLP was negligent over the past several decades by failing to properly address alleged sexual abuse and harassment by IBLP employees and that IBLP failed to properly report known or suspected abuse to the proper authorities. The lawsuit further alleges that IBLP’s conduct was “wilful and wanton” because IBLP demonstrated an “utter indifference to and/or [a] conscious disregard for a substantial risk of harm” to the plaintiffs, and that IBLP and its directors engaged in a civil conspiracy to cover up the allegations.
The lawsuit specifically alleges that IBLP was negligent and allowed unlawful conduct to continue by:
The plaintiffs, through Gibbs III’s law firm, allege that Gibbs Jr’s organization had “had no qualification to conduct [the internal] investigation into allegations of sexual abuse and sexual harassment.” Furthermore, it alleges that “the internal investigation and the fee paid resulted in an internal investigation that was pre-ordained and nothing more than a cover-up of the allegations of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and inappropriate/unauthorized touching that occurred at the Defendant IBLP.”
The lawsuit notes that IBLP is attempting to sell the Oak Brook Headquarters property and is planning to relocate to Texas, and it asks the court to impose a constructive trust on IBLP’s assets, preventing IBLP from spending down their resources until the lawsuit is resolved.
We at Recovering Grace have stated publicly for many months now that our hope and prayer was that Bill Gothard and the IBLP leadership would take responsibility for his/their actions, and that this situation could have been handled in a manner befitting an organization that claims the name of Christ. As it stands now, we hope that this lawsuit indicates the seriousness of the allegations, and we continue to pray that this action will facilitate true repentance and justice that, so far, has not occurred.
The RG Leadership Team