Another Witness: Sexual Harassment at HQ

9 May 2012, 06:00



Although our Sexual Abuse series concluded in April, we are still receiving accounts of what went on behind the scenes at IBLP headquarters. Annette sent us her story this week and gave us permission to publish it. This account was her response to Lizzie's story which we published on April 20, 2012. After publishing this article we've continued to receive reports of Gothard's improper sexual conduct towards young ladies. Click here to read Grace's story, as well as "A Call to Repentance."

There was a huge piece of me that did NOT want to read Lizzie’s article when I heard about it, so I intentionally avoided it. Now that I’ve read it, I’m pretty upset and having to process a great number of emotions.

My story is that I was brought to HQ in the wake of some serious abuse at home, and was essentially placed in the care of Bill Gothard. I was put to work in other areas, but was often alone with him due to the nature of our guardianship relationship.

Honestly, I had no earthly idea what was happening between Bill Gothard and me during the time I spent with him at HQ. I literally could’ve written Lizzy’s article, changing out a few minor details. I visualized dozens of encounters between him and me while reading her story. My memories are flooding back to me:

Why can I feel his thigh against mine on the red couch in his office?

His right hand on my back while we’re standing in his private bathroom located IN his office?

Why do I know what his FEET look like in just black socks?

Private drives in his car. . . hand on my leg. . .

Oh my word! I was so incredibly starved for and craving physical and emotional attention and so incredibly naive that I could not even recognize the inappropriateness and lines that were crossed a million times over.

This statement from “Lizzie’s” article resonated deeply with me:

“He uses his position of spiritual and organizational authority to frame leaving his side as leaving God’s will and losing the most effective place for ministry.”

During my stay at HQ, a boy and I became infatuated with each other, and broke some minor rules that got us sent home. I have always thought (even at the time) that Bill Gothard’s reaction to what happened between the boy and me was over-the-top ridiculous, and that he literally took it PERSONALLY. As if I behaved with someone else in a way that was directly vow-breaking to HIM, rather than to God or my “commitments.”

As I am processing this wave of emotion at this very moment, a HUGE revelation has finally become clear to me. For many years, I have recognized that something was damaged in me that has left me unable to trust relationships with men, but specifically relationships that would tend toward counseling, advice, etc. I have always had an extreme fear of and hesitancy towards sharing anything of an intimate nature with a pastor. When I hit a wall 4+ years ago and found myself ready to seek professional counseling, I KNEW it needed to be a woman – NOT a man. Now I know why! In my most formative, developmental years, Bill Gothard set a precedent for me of what a counseling relationship with a man looked like:

Intimate, emotionally-bonding, physical.

I have always known what my fear was, but until now, I have never been able to understand (even in talking about fears around men with my counselor) WHY the fears exist. For the first time ever, I know WHY, and I really think knowing why now will help me be able to work through it.

Thank you for posting this, as hard as it was for me to read. I have had a breakthrough.

See how the experiences Ruth, Annette, Charlotte, Rachel, Meg, Lizzie, and Grace had with Bill Gothard fit together chronologically here, and behaviorally here.

"Annette" is a married mother of four. She is incredibly grateful to have been sent "home" from HQ, where she learned the hard way to look her abusers in the eye and tell them it wasn't okay. Today, she sets healthy boundaries for herself and her family, and is an active member of her church and community.
All articles on this site reflect the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of other Recovering Grace contributors or the leadership of the site. Students who have survived Gothardism tend to end up at a wide variety of places on the spiritual and theological spectrum, thus the diversity of opinions expressed on this website reflects that. For our official statement of beliefs, click here.


  1. Cheryl Chamberlain Duwe May 9, 2012 Reply

    Those "AHA!" moments can be painful, and they open up doors for healing. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Grace May 9, 2012 Reply

    Thank you for sharing. That took a lot of courage.

  3. Stephen Butler May 9, 2012 Reply

    A messed up situation. Get ready, the floodgates are gonna break as more women come forward I am sure. It is sad, not that he would be attracted to women, but that he would live a life of "celibacy," and be struggling with the hidden sins. He is no different than all humans. We were somehow raised to believe he was without sin, at least that is what I can recall as I listened to him give his applications of the scripture. Little did I know, as a young man, that it was all icegetical nonsense...although in my heart, I knew something was off. You can't talk about sin and all the things that we have to avoid all the time without getting caught up in it yourself. I hope that you can recover, although I am not sure any of us can fully recover from the abuse. We can use it to help others, and that is what you are doing. God bless you Annette.

  4. Chris May 9, 2012 Reply

    Am I correct in reading that BG sent the author of this article home to an abusive environment over a minor infraction with a boy? (And I know from my own experience with ATI that they would send people home for things as innocent as touching someone on the shoulder or having a private conversation.)

    This seems as bad if not worse than the alleged sexual harassment because it shows that his interest in enforcing minor rules is greater than his interest in protecting and counseling someone who has suffered abuse.

    Perhaps I am reading too much into the article.

    • Administrator May 9, 2012 Reply


      That would be an accurate assessment of the situation.

      RG leadership

    • Another Hannah May 27, 2012 Reply

      now THAT is a can someone do that? I mean, if Annette was there for help, of course she might do something wrong...but that doesn't mean she needs to be sent home, does it? Can't she be helped to see and correct what wrong there was and then move on? That's what she was there for anyway...

      • Annette's Friend May 27, 2012 Reply

        Oh, they could do it. I remember when it happened. They were much more concerned about keeping up appearances than they were about helping her. The one thing my time at Oak Brook showed me was that the ATI program was far more concerned with outward appearance than with inward attitude. It's a shame, really.

  5. Maddy May 9, 2012 Reply

    Thank you for the courage it took to reveal the shame and confusion you were caused to feel by your innocence being preyed upon as a young woman. I am sorry that you experienced that, and especially from someone you felt you were supposed to be able to trust. I pray you will continue to heal and will be richly blessed for your boldness to reveal the Truth concerning what has apparently remained hidden for quite sometime.

     And now I want to speak directly to you, Bill Gothard, since apparently you are perusing this site. What do you have to say for yourself? Why are you silent? There is a multitude of testimony from prior, as well as, current students. Young women who are relaying to us the hurt, the shame, the anguish you caused them to feel as they have told us of liberties you took toward them. We have also heard from young  men who said they were humiliated and sent home for not even a minute fraction of what is said that you have done....repeatedly done, I should add. 

    As a prior parent I will tell you how I feel Bill. I feel angry, I feel cheated, I feel deceived by you. Of course I felt that long ago, many years before now. Only back then I was confused. I thought I was the only one. I was afraid to speak up lest the finger be pointed at me claiming I was bitter and rebellious. But I will not be silenced now. I have found the boldness to speak up because I stand on the truth of Jesus Christ. I have experienced the failings of the "fruit" of your teaching. I realize now why what you taught did not work. It simply isn't biblical Bill. It's not TRUTH.

    IT IS BY GRACE, Bill.....Grace......Simple, free gift......Jesus did it........It is finished.......NO principals, NO formulas added to the gospel message...............just JESUS.

    Unless you can legitimately deny these claims, is not repentance in order by the same standard of measure you set for others?

    For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves,  it is  the gift of God; (Ephesians 2:8 NASB)

    ..........who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, (2 Timothy 1:9 NASB)

    Jesus *said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:6 NASB)

    • Tammy May 9, 2012 Reply

      Thank you Annette for having the courage to share your story. I pray that in doing so that you will find continued healing and restoration. I pray for others who may be trying to decide whether to share their story or not will find the courage and strength to do so.

      I am deeply concerned that Bill Gothard is finding it necessary to try and get others who have commented on previous stories to have their comments removed. (*See the last Gracenotes story and note put at the top of the story by the administrators.) I pray for them that they will have the courage and strength to remain steadfast in sharing the truth. It benefits no one but Bill to remain silent. It time his inappropriate behavior is made known. These young people need to know it wasn't their fault. They need to know they weren't the only one. There needs to be a protection today for the young girls who are currently in the program.

      Maddy, I, another parent, appreciate your stand and challenge to Bill Gothard to repent and change his ways. It's time he is accountable to someone and the truth of his behavior and herectical teachings be made known.

      As for Jesus. He is wonderful. His grace is unmerited and sufficient for me. I'll forever be grateful for my personal relationship with Jesus and freedom from the bondage of legalism that had me in chains for years.

    • The Easter Bunny May 9, 2012 Reply

      I'm shaking with fear all the way from my little pink nose to my cotton tail at your gravatar. Do you not know that those dolls are demonic? You have brought evil influences into this blog. Which is already full of rock music infused bitterness and anger.
      I suggest you print out the picture and then burn it immediately.

      • Maddy May 9, 2012 Reply

        Easter Bunny, 
        How are you so familiar with the doll? Are you sure you are not secretly playing with them?  Is your admonition really for the purpose of attempting to appear godly? If so, you are on the wrong site. Those of us on this site are not impressed by rule following. We have been set free from bondage and are walking in the grace of the King.

        • The Easter Bunny May 10, 2012

          I am very familiar with that so-called "doll" or as mommy bunny put it after going to a Basic Seminar, 'spawn of satan". I remember as a very small bunny, hopping to and from our rabbit warren, having to go through a "cabbage patch" on a farm near our burrow. I remember seeing these dolls looming large as I hopped through. Sitting there, with that cold, unblinking stare. You could just feel the evil coming from them.

          Mommy would warn us about them, and tell us to go around that Cabbage Patch. However, it was the shortest route to bunny school, so I ignored this admonishment. (I suppose this rebellion came from my overhearing the rock music that would come from the farmer's barn).

          All kind of bad things would happen to us. One time, the farmer chased me with a pitchfork. Another time, a hawk swooped down and picked up one of my bunny siblings. We couldn't figure out why so many bad things were happening to us.

          Years later, after mommy and daddy bunny went to a Basic Seminar, (they went because they heard that Bill Gothard celebrated large families, and bunnies are good a making large families), we learned from Bill Gothard that what was the source of all our bad things. It was those smug little dolls in the "Cabbage Patch".

          So one night, under cover of darkness, Daddy Bunny stole some gas from the farmer's tractor, and took this and set fire to the cabbage patch, just as Bill Gothard ordered…or “strongly suggested”.

          Nothing really changed, but at least we know we did the right thing.

          As far as what I do or play with privately, if I’ve learned anything from my years in ATI, it really doesn’t matter what I do in my private time, as long as my “outward appearance” reflects the “standards of the moment”.

        • Maddy May 10, 2012

          Wow, Easter Bunny. That is quite a story. I can certainly see why my avatar frightens you so. Your excellent sense of humor certainly has been a gift to not only yourself, but others such as myself. It helps me to digest the harsh and horrible reality that upon my 10 year old daughter's birthday she would receive a doll like my avatar. Then it would be taken away only 2 weeks later when, we too, just like your parent bunnies discovered the evil surrounding them. Coincidentally we learned of this evil from the same source as your parent bunnies! This evil was talked of in hushed tones across many circles. We knew we needed to take drastic measures! Thankfully we offered our little girl $100 as payment for this evil doll! This sweet bribe softened the blow and she happily dance away into the sunset.........perhaps thinking her mom must be a chump! :-) Then apparently the Kool aid dose was wearing off because I shipped the doll off to Goodwill to infect some poor child with the evil doll in another part of town!

           Yes Easter Bunny, I hang my head in shame. It was me, it must have been my doll that was carted off to bring evil upon your cabbage patch!! If only I had listened, if only I had burned it, would have saved your problems. Will you forgive me Easter Bunny? 

      • Christy E. Bell May 9, 2012 Reply

        Don't worry, Bunny; Jesus will keep you safe, hunny. ;)

  6. Laura Iversen May 9, 2012 Reply

    what a smear to the name of Jesus Christ. So glad the truth is setting women free. I am so thankful for the testimonies and the freedom God is giving me, Bill, from your whacked out interpretations of scripture, and can only mourn the past and dance at the future. You should repent, and publicly before the multitudes, since what is done in secret is now being shouted from the rooftops. you will not be able to keep it in much longer, why not give in to the guilt and shame, repent, and get rid of it?! this is true freedom.

  7. Jaime May 9, 2012 Reply

    This is what people need to realize: If any other man, any pastor, any employer, any teacher, had behaved in this way, it would instantly have been recognized for what it was: Sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is not sex. It is not rape. It is not oral copulation. Those are sex crimes. "Harassment" is those subtle advances. Those inappropriate moments alone, those touches that make a girl suddenly realize that she is completely vulnerable. That terrifying sensation that what happened could so easily be written off as "nothing," and that if you tried to explain to anyone how the looks and the touches were sexually charged, you would not be listened to. THAT is the epitome of sexual harassment. It is a crime. Under no circumstances is it okay. It violates personal boundaries. It violates trust. It creates fear. It is certainly not the way that God wants His princesses to be treated. Quite frankly, a person in power making those kinds of moves on innocent, defenseless girls is something that makes God very, very angry. I pity the man who hurts one of His little ones.

    • MatthewS May 9, 2012 Reply

      So true.

      There is a line that is crossed when a person in a position of trust begins using you to meet their own needs instead of working to meet your needs. The subtle betrayal is that these girls had been promised a safe place and one where they would be ministered to, even as they ministered in useful ways.

      Their "safe" place was in reality unsafe, and they weren't being ministered to, they were being used by Mr. Gothard to meet his own needs. And we've seen repeatedly that they were denied the opportunity to use their gifts and abilities in a useful way as well.

      • Bethany May 17, 2012 Reply

        I echo what Matthew said. The abuse of spiritual and leadership power causes deep wounds. And on top of that, sexual harrassment! Thank you for sharing, Annette.

    • Maddy May 9, 2012 Reply

      Very well stated.

    • Heather August 24, 2012 Reply

      Hey Alfred, did you read what Jaime wrote? Will this help clear things up for you a bit?

  8. Arlice Gallagher May 9, 2012 Reply

    I have been interested in seeing the comments in some of the stories about how Bill Gothard used his feet to play footsie or whatever he called it. A friend of mine does Christian work with inmates at the State Prison and maybe others as well. He has said that women (his wife in particular) who go to do the same witness are not allowed to wear shoes that expose the bare foot or toes as that causes many of the men to respond inappropriately. Just makes me wonder.....

    • Arlice Gallagher May 9, 2012 Reply

      I believe it's called a toe "fetish"

  9. Andy May 9, 2012 Reply

    Ok, these are pretty standard awkward situations and difficult to construe as sexual:

    >Why can I feel his thigh against mine on the red couch in his office?

    >Why do I know what his FEET look like in just black socks?

    And these are where it starts to get questionable:

    >Private drives in his car. . . hand on my leg. . .

    >His right hand on my back while we’re standing in his private bathroom located >IN his office?

    It's extremely clear that people were made uncomfortable, but it's not very clear whether this was intentional.

    • KariU May 9, 2012 Reply

      What are you not clear on, Andy? Whether BG touched a girl, whether he intended to reach out and touch her, or whether he intended to make her feel uncomfortable?

      I would submit that BG sincerely never intended to make a girl feel uncomfortable. But he *did* make them uncomfortable, nonetheless. While violating in many small ways the things that got other boys sent home. Those small, intimate actions fall under sexual harassment terminology, not assault. I do not believe there needs to be ill intent to make someone under your employ or care feel uncomfortable.

      • Ellen May 9, 2012 Reply

        And when it happens year after year after year, generation after generation -- and has been repeatedly brought to your attention -- the culpability skyrockets, and the ability to claim "unintentionality" and innocence in the actions is lost.

      • Andy May 10, 2012 Reply

        The main issue is that there doesn't exist any way for complaints by those made to feel uncomfortable to be realistically taken seriously.

        What this all really looks like is that Bill Gothard was clueless, and victims of his cluelessness were also made to feel helpless and confused due to the lack of recourse and the glaring double-standard. That in itself may easily make all of this worthy of the term sexual harassment.

        • The Easter Bunny May 10, 2012

          Finally! Someone gets it! I agree Andy! The fact that Bill Gothard has for years emotionally seduced and been "physically affectionate" with teenage girls, all the while going around and severely punishes people who do the same or less, is simply cluelessness.

          He's a reasonable man. If someone would simply point out to him this "blind spot", I'm sure he would humbly accept the correction, and immediately change his behavior.

          People say they've tried to do this over the years, but he won't listen. I'm sure it's just because they haven't "done it right". There is a formula for everything, including "Making a Godly Appeal". If you don't do it exactly right, then the person you are appealing to doesn't have to listen. It's in the Bible..somewhere..I think.

          I would do this, but he's said publicly that he doesn't believe in me.

        • "Hannah" May 10, 2012

          I have a hard time believing bg is ignorant of what sexual harassment really is. But sure, give him a course on it, similar to any course required for employees at any "real" job. See if it changes anything.

    • Ileata May 9, 2012 Reply

      Honestly? You think that a single man who sends boys away from TC's for looking at girls, let along touching them, doesn't know it's a problem to put his hand on a girl's leg?

      And what is not intentional about asking people to take their shoes off and then touching their feet? (That was in the other story.)

      • Tangent May 10, 2012 Reply

        Easter Bunny, You make me laugh!

    • Maddy May 9, 2012 Reply

      Andy, you said:

      "It's extremely clear that people were made uncomfortable, but it's not very clear whether this was intentional."

      By your logic someone raping another individual would be innocent if it was not their intent to harm. Your logic is saying that perhaps it was not BG's intent. We could also use the same logic and say perhaps it WAS his intent. No one knows his heart. Just like Bill used to teach in regards to clothing..........that man looks on the outward appearance. We are all looking at the outward appearance of BG's actions.

      The bottom line is this. There is a multitude of testimony from young women who state they were uncomfortable. Unless Bill is daft, he would certainly understand acceptable physical boundaries in today's current world, especially when the boundaries taught within his ministry were more stringent.

      Why was BG above the standards being taught within his ministry? 

      Why is BG not responding?

    • WendyA May 9, 2012 Reply

      Um, Andy, just a sec. I've worked in a lot of office situations. Some in religious organizations after leaving IBLP/ATI, some in secular, business settings.

      I've been in my current position for eight years, as assistant to three men. I have never sat close enough to any of them to have any physical contact --- not in the office, and not in the car on the very few occasions when I've driven somewhere with one of them. I have never seen any of them barefoot or in sock feet. My bosses maintain the highest possible standards of decorum at all times.

      For a man in Mr. Gothard's position, ANY of the situations cited is questionable. And for someone who claims to hold a higher standard, ALL of them are objectionable. ALL of them.

    • MatthewS May 9, 2012 Reply

      Andy, the clarity you are looking for is easy to find. Go to the local public library and try these things out on the attractive teen girls. In the ensuing exciting events, you should find enlightenment.

      A couple things to remember:
      - didn't happen with the boys
      - didn't happen with the girls who didn't have "the look"
      - didn't happen in front of mom and dad
      - didn't happen TO mom and dad

      Here is something else to try: Read some of the accounts here to dads of daughters. I find it's more fun to do this with the bald-headed ones: their entire head lights up!

      • Andy May 10, 2012 Reply

        -How do you know it didn't happen to boys?
        -How do you know it didn't happen to girls who didn't have "the look"?
        -How do you know it didn't happen in front of, or to mom and dad?

        • WendyA May 10, 2012

          Aw, dude, REALLY?! Do you REALLY need it spelled out for you?

          Have any of the male readers here come forward to say that it happened to them? Or that they saw it being done to guys? (No, but PLENTY have corroborated the girls' accounts.)

          Haven't you read the comments from the girls who didn't have "the look" or "the demeanor" who said that they saw what was going on and either couldn't figure out why they weren't favoured or knew why and were hurt by it?

          Haven't you read the accounts, in both posts and comments, of how BG waited until he was alone, or in situations where he felt he would be unchallenged, before he approached these young women?

          Have any of our readers who are parents (and there are several who have identified themselves as such) said that they observed such behaviour? The ONLY parents I know of who saw such stuff were the ones who were on staff at the TCs, and it wasn't their kids who were being pawed over in front of them.

          How do we know? Because the testimonies speak for themselves.

        • Maddy May 10, 2012

          I second Wendy's reply to you. And also just want to add......Really dude?

        • "Hannah" May 10, 2012

          Um, all you had to do was observe the guy in action, to know the answers to those questions :p

        • Sheila May 10, 2012

          I think it is good that you are asking questions, Andy. I also had to make some phone calls & write some e-mails to ask people that I knew about their involvement in such situations so that I could wrap my mind around what was being said. Sadly I came up with stories from 6 females that I know personally within a couple days.

    • JD May 10, 2012 Reply

      Andy, ANY time a girl is met with unwelcome touch from a male (especially a male AUTHORITY figure!) she is being sexually harassed. It doesn't matter if the touch was incidental or unintentional, it is unprofessional and should get the guy fired. Bill Gothard SENT OTHER PEOPLE HOME for less, so he knows what he is doing. Clearly, Bill Gothard is a pedophile grooming troubled and attractive young teens to be subservient to him so he can get his jollies by touching their hands and knees when their parents aren't around.

      • Chris May 10, 2012 Reply

        Unless BG was doing more than what has been reported here, calling him a pedophile is more than a bit excessive and inaccurate. I have not heard anyone suggest (yet) that he engaged in overt sexual activity with staff or students. Until and unless that occurs, I think attaching labels like pedophile that is inappropriate and unfair both to him and to those who have suffered overt sexual abuse as children. This does not excuse his behavior, which is clearly hypocritical, abusive, and wrong, and I think as you mentioned does show a type of grooming (but not for sex), but let's not get carried away by attaching labels that exaggerate and do not accurately portray what happened.

        • Patrick Jayne May 10, 2012

          I actually agree with you that without evidence of over sexual activity, "pedophile" seems a bit strong. However, you can be a 'pedophile" without ever acting on your "impulses". Pedophilia is simply an attraction to children, beyond what is normal and healthy. Bill Gothard has been quoted, recently in fact, to say "I like teens". (And this was in response to people asking him about the stories on this site.)His behavior over the years gives plenty of evidence, that not only does he like teens, but he REALLY likes teens that fit a certain profile. This is consistent with accepted defintions of a "fetish".

          There's no way he has behaved the way he has, by going all the way up to the "line" over and over for 60-70 years, but not "crossing it," without creating an unhealthy, repressed and warped view of sexuality. One that I recognize as very common in men and women in ATI as well as the greater "fundy" culture. Whether he realizes it or not, he's passed his sexual issues on to an entire generation of men and women. T

          I think what Bill Gothard has given us is a first class example of what Paul really meant by "It is better to marry than to burn".

        • WendyA May 10, 2012

          Would you be happier if people were more accurate and used the phraseology "it appears that Mr. Gothard may be an ephebophile"? So that you don't have to look it up, an ephebophile shows a marked sexual preference for post-pubertal adolescents, where a pedophile generally targets children under the age of twelve.

          While ephebophilia is not necessarily symptomatic of a sexual disorder, it can be problematic if the target is under the legal age of consent, and it may be diagnosed as a disorder if it results in dysfunctional or exploitative behaviour.

          I believe that what most of the young ladies who have shared their stories here are trying to say is that they felt that Mr. Gothard's behaviour was, in fact, exploitative in nature.

        • Chris May 10, 2012

          Wendy my only concern is that using sensational labels absent proof often undermine credibility. Generally when you describe someone as a pedophile or an ephebophile - usually people assume there is activity that is more sexual in nature than the acts that have been described here.

          My only concern is that using sensational labels absent evidence of activity that would describe how must people interpret those terms tends to undermine the credibility of BG's critics.

          And his activity described here in this testimony is in no way excusable. It's abusive and there certainly appears to be grooming activity - but not necessarily grooming to engage in sexual intercourse. (At least from what has I have seen and heard so far.)

          That's not to say that he isn't using teens to fulfill some repressed desire. Perhaps I'm quibbling about a minor point, but I just think it's important to use accurate labels. The truth is bad enough.

          My concern is that by using terms like pedophile, the discussion becomes "is BG a pedophile or not" and the abuse that is documented just gets ignored by a side-show argument about what "is" is.

          And as I mentioned earlier, I think one of the worst things described here are that he sent someone back into an abusive environment for committing a relatively minor infraction! And that has nothing to do with sexual harassment!

        • Maddy May 10, 2012

          I understand what you are saying and feel you make a very valid point. You are not defending the behavior. You just don't want credibility to be lost by using labels ascribed to criminal child molesters. You feel it could make us look like we are exaggeratng, dramatizing, and trying to sensationalize his behavior. It would therefore undermine the most definite inappropriate behavior our writers have described.

        • Chris May 10, 2012

          Maddy - that's exactly what I'm saying only you were able to articulate it much more concisely than I. :-)

        • "Hannah" May 10, 2012

          Bear in mind that anyone is allowed to comment, the comments do not necessarily reflect on the authorship of any given article.

        • Bethany May 17, 2012

          Wow. I agree with Chris, and he said it well. To call BG a pedophile seems harsh and doesn't do justice to victims of such deviants. But then what Patrick said really hits a nerve. My mother and father, former devout ATI-airs are now counselors (my mother has a doctorate). She specializes in children and my dad specializes in sexual deviation. He has explained BG's exact behavior to me when discussing the sad case of a minister who was on probation for raping his adopted daughter. My father described the “toeing of the line” (no pun intended) and the sexual repression and obsession that grows from this repression and secret “tending.” It is scary for me to think that a man with such spiritual power would abuse it and have a “blind spot” just wide enough for this to slide by. I know that God hates this behavior. I wonder what He has in store for BG?

    • Jaime May 10, 2012 Reply

      Okay, so you're saying that BG is simply clueless to when someone is tensing up and withdrawing in discomfort from him (despite years of training as a counselor), that he is unwilling to monitor himself as closely as he monitors others, that he considers himself above his own rules for appropriate interaction between unmarried males and females, that he is naive regarding physical advances despite his age and maturity, and that he lacks discernment in regards to touching young girls alone in his office at night. I don't know that your defense of him as someone not intentionally sexually harassing minors paints him in a better light than simply acknowledging that his behavior was inappropriate. I don't care how "innocent" someone's intentions were. Any child can tell when someone is uncomfortable around them. Even the densest person alive should be able to realize that when someone complains of feeling uncomfortable, that they should modify their behavior. Forty years of "clueless" is pretty hard to swallow, unless the person in question had a severe, crippling mental handicap.

    • Heather June 28, 2012 Reply

      Well Andy, when you catch some older man doing any of those things to your teenage daughter, come back and let us know if you've figured it out. :/

    • Heather September 5, 2012 Reply

      Andy, none of my bosses EVER did any of those things to me, and several of my bosses weren't exactly shining examples. In fact, with one exception, none of my male coworkers ever did any of those things to me, it would have been sexual harassment, regardless of their intentions. (and honestly, what reason does any man have for laying his hand on my leg? Sitting so close to me that our thighs are squeezed together? And standing in a bathroom together? What?) Outside of janitorial or repair reasons, unrelated men and women have no business standing in a private bathroom together. Andy, would you intentionally do any of these things with a woman you weren't married to? (or otherwise related to?) You say it's unclear whether it's intentional... If it had only happened once or twice, then yes, it probably was unintentional... But the witnesses say that this happened DOZENS of times, to different girls, possibly even hundreds of times, over the past 40 odd years.

  10. Wendy Blake May 9, 2012 Reply

    You are definitely not reading too much into it. I am positive that Gothard had absolutely no regard or care for her protection. He is in this business for one thing only.... himself.
    It is so sad to see how many people have seen a way to complete their Christianity through works and so have jumped on Gothard's bandwagon and have hurt so many others.

    • Chris May 9, 2012 Reply

      In my view having her come to HQ for counseling and protection from an abusive home environment, and then sending her back to that dangerous environment because she broke some minor rule is way worse the alleged sexual harassment because it shows more concern for his own silly standards than for her safety and well-being.

    • Chris May 9, 2012 Reply

      Sending people home to an abusive environment because they did not have a "proper courtship spirit" sends the message that having a "courtship spirit" is more important than protecting someone from abuse.

      That is a seriously flawed priority. Even someone who wants to disbelieve that Gothard committed sexual harassment should find this highly disturbing.

      • Tammy May 9, 2012 Reply

        Totally agree. Very disturbing indeed!

      • Heather June 18, 2012 Reply

        Proper courtship spirit.. And pray tell me, what exactly does that even mean? smh...

  11. grateful May 9, 2012 Reply

    While at a Basic, and by the the prompting of BG, I made a commitment to never be alone with a woman (other than my wife) at the office or on a business lunch.

    The irony makes me sick to my stomach.

    Thanks for being so brave to share.

  12. Denise May 9, 2012 Reply

    Aww, you're brave and my heart goes out to you! Thank you Lord, for those who started this recovery site! It looks like many people are getting just that!!!

  13. Samuel Lundmark May 9, 2012 Reply

    In my opinion:
    Objectionable actions are not above reproach.
    Self-proclaimed intent does not justify these actions.

    Actions which have repeatedly been brought to your attention by others sympathetic to your cause and have fallen upon your deaf ears are inexcusable.

    Putting girls into awkward situations where you take occassion to show physical affection is uncalled for and not considered "safe" in the interests of the girl--especially in light of the documented happenings in this organization.

    Considering boys to be "intruding" when they show attention to a girl in lessor ways is hypocritical. Let's play by your rules, "Send the girl and the boy home so the boy can pursue the girl under their parents' direction." Do no tarnish their names. In other words, you do not own the girls and have no rights over or concerning them.

    Bill is not a God-given parent (unchangeable) of any of these girls. They do not belong to him.

    • Jaime May 10, 2012 Reply

      Exactly, Samuel. Well said.

  14. Zoe May 9, 2012 Reply

    Props and kudos, Annette, for speaking out. Your words are powerful. Bg has abused his ill-gotten power far too long on far too many. All the best to you.

  15. Christy E. Bell May 10, 2012 Reply

    Annette, I'm so sorry this happened to you,but I'm thanking the Lord for your breakthrough!

  16. MatthewS May 10, 2012 Reply

    I'm getting the impression that for every one of you brave ladies that speaks up about this, there are ten who are quietly benefiting. Bless you for your courage.

  17. JPU May 10, 2012 Reply

    Easter Bunny,
    LOL! Thanks for your light-hearted comments! Every time I see your name there I think of that Veggie Tales song, The Bunny Song. BTW, I know this is probably off-topic, but is Veggie Tales considered ATI-friendly?

    • Sheila May 15, 2012 Reply

      Absolutely not....rock music.

    • becky October 9, 2013 Reply

      Nope...I got in trouble for wearing veggie tale earrings at a training for character first...

  18. SaraJ May 11, 2012 Reply

    "While at a Basic, and by the the prompting of BG, I made a commitment to never be alone with a woman (other than my wife) at the office or on a business lunch."

    See, that's what makes all this a REALLY big deal to the rest of us. We struggled to keep to these high standards, usually failing and being condemned. And now it turns out that maybe HE can't keep to the standards either! But instead of admitting it and turning to God's grace, he lived a double standard. That's what hurts.

    • Grace May 11, 2012 Reply

      Exactly Sara! I am one whose reputation was destroyed over nothing!That is what I have struggled with since these articles came out.

    • Sheila May 15, 2012 Reply

      Right on SaraJ! I am another one who's reputation was destroyed for much smaller interaction with the opposite sex.

  19. danae May 12, 2012 Reply

    I heard the exhortation at multiple seminars for men to not travel in a vehicle alone with a woman. If they were *forced* into such an awkward situation as to alone in a vehicle wi a woman, they should never sit next to each other. The woman was to sit in the back seat - out of arms reach presumably. The blatant hypocrisy of bg is maddening. He is without excuse.

  20. Janetxb July 5, 2012 Reply




    Humble yourself before the Lord.

    Now. Before it's too late.

  21. Anonymous September 21, 2012 Reply

    [comment removed by request of comment author]

    • WendyA September 21, 2012 Reply

      No, dear sister, you were not being simple and stupid. You were being a normal 16-year-old girl, responding to the kindness of an older man. It is never the fault of an innocent person when someone takes advantage of their innocence. Never. You were innocent. Whether he did, or didn't, have ulterior motives in your case ... it's okay that you saw the human side of him. He is, after all, a person.

      Please understand that our goal here is not to turn Mr. Gothard into a ravening monster. We understand that he is a man, a sinner who faces his own personal challenges, just like all of the rest of us. Our goal is to show that he did not practise what he preached. That he did not live up to the standards that he demanded of others. That he indulged in behaviour that would have gotten any other man on his staff sent away in disgrace after a very public humiliation. (And that would, in some cases, have even secular businessmen raising questions of propriety.)

      We do not blame the young people --- or, in general, the parents --- whom he took advantage of or misled. But we do want to warn others of the falseness of his teaching and of the hypocrisy of his behaviour.

  22. grewupinati September 29, 2012 Reply

    When I was at the training center in Indianapolis, a staff member locked me in an office for several hours without a bathroom. The same staff member, under the guise of providing instruction concerning lustful thoughts, described to me in detail his lustful thoughts about my classmates, describing sexual activity that up until that time I did not think about.

    • phyllis February 12, 2014 Reply

      That is abusive. So so wrong. A double standard is very hurtful.

  23. [...] (6,181 views): Another Witness–Sexual Harassment at HQ. Annette shares the story of her experiences at IBLP’s Chicago [...]

  24. John Doe March 3, 2013 Reply

    Have any women filed police reports? A court of law would not even consider prosecution if there has been none. Has there ever been two or three witnesses?

    • Patrick Jayne March 3, 2013 Reply

      Well, the number of witnesses to BG's inappropriate behavior with women and young girls numbers in the hundreds. This includes former high ranking staff and board members. But what happens when they try the Biblical approach and go to him one on one or in groups of two witnesses? BG promptly fires them or removes them from his board, and works to ruin their professional lives.

      Can you not see the lack of integrity in this ministry or do you not want to see it, because of what it would make you face, John Doe?

  25. David March 4, 2013 Reply

    Let me address Bill Gothard since he apparently reads this site and to this point has ignored the pleas of those who would turn him from his ways. Sir, you are preaching ANOTHER GOSPEL. You are destroying people's natural lives and spiritual lives. You have been appealed to again and again about your false, legalistic teachings -- this has continued for decades. You are on a course that will cost you eternity. Turn and repent. I believe you KNOW. I believe you know enough to turn. Do it now.

  26. [...] here at Recovering Grace of abuse that happened within ATI families as well as sexual harassment at Headquarters. Over and over, this fact was clearly made known to Mr. Gothard and the leadership within IBLP/ATI, [...]

  27. [...] Editor’s note: This is the third article in a series of stories relating Bill Gothard’s sexual harassment of young girls at Headquarters. Click on these links to read the previous stories: Lizzie’s story Part 1 and Part 2, and Annette’s story. [...]

  28. [...] first testimony, we have continued to receive similar testimonies of sexual harassment by Gothard: Another Witness: Sexual Harassment at HQ; Third Witness: Sexual Harassment at HQ. I know the story I recently shared may bring many [...]

  29. [...] 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 [...]

  30. [...] sexual harassment within the Institute. Follow-up articles with similar testimonies include: Another Witness; Third Witness; and A Call to [...]

  31. […] untrue. Until someone wrote to me two years ago asking me if the sexual harassment stories on the Recovering Grace website were […]

  32. […] true heroes of my story are Lizzie, Annette and Grace. Without their courage I would never have begun the incredible journey to freedom. When I […]

  33. […] across something bigger than we could have ever anticipated. A few weeks later, we published Annette’s story; a year later, Grace’s. Over the past two weeks, Meg has shared with us her very painful personal […]

  34. […] Annette’s Story […]

  35. […] Annette’s Story […]

  36. […] Annette’s Story […]

  37. ava March 19, 2014 Reply


  38. Lisa May 30, 2016 Reply

    I have been reading posts and comments on this site for the past couple days. While I was not involved in IBLP/ATI at any time (didn't even know BG existed until I started watching the Duggars on TV), I would like to say a few things.

    One, to all the families who were ripped apart by this so-called "ministry" I am sorry for what you went through. Especially in cases when BG's teachings justified abuse, an area I am familiar with as my dad is abusive. Emotional, psychological, and spritual, as well as economic at times. I sincerely hurt for you. To anyone questioning whether these things actually happened, I'll tell you this: On my favorite crime drama, which revolves around a team of FBI profilers (behavior analysts), I have heard one thing several times "Once is bad, Twice is suspicious, Three times is a pattern." Since there are WAY more than three families that have been essentially torn apart, I would say that's more than enough proof.

    Two, to all the women who were targeted, I hurt for you too. What happened to you was despicable and inexcusable. There was absolutely no call for what was done to you. You Are Not To Blame. You were taken advantage of, exploited, whatever term you want to use. Annette, you are incredibly brave for coming forward and telling your story. I commend and admire you.

    Three, to anyone looking for some way to describe BG concerning these young women, the thing that came to my mind is Preferential Sex Offender. I watch a lot of crime dramas. One of them revolves around a team of FBI profilers or behavior analysts (the unit they work for is called the BAU or Behavioral Analysis Unit). In several different episodes dealing with crimes involving children, sex offenders were at the top of the list. Preferential Sex Offenders can have preferences ranging simply from preferring boys to girls and vice versa, to preferring a certain age, hair color, figure, etc. Wasn't until I read several comments on here, plus looked at stories and saw this: that it clicked. By the way, a sex offender is anyone who commits a sex crime whether it be harassment, assault, rape, etc. From everything I've read so far, he seems to prefer blondes (some brunettes), ages ranging from 15-20 (if you were younger when it happened, not excluding you), someone mentioned 1950s stewardess type (looked it up and seemed to be skinny with soft curls around the face) and he works in an environment that gives him access, as this type offender tends to do.

    Yeah, I know I'm not a trained profiler, but essentially profiling is just noticing behavior, and from the behavior described, my third point above is my conclusion.

    To wrap up, I can describe BG's character in one word: HYPOCRITE. Having a double standard is really harmful, especially when you're in leadership, as BG should not be. I hurt for everyone who was hurt by him or his teachings, and my thoughts and prayers go out to you.

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