Defrauding: What does it mean?

27 February 2014, 06:00



In February 1976, Bill Gothard confessed to the poorly-defined offense of “having ‘defrauded’ staff secretaries.”

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In a July 1980 meeting of the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts (IBYC) board, it was confirmed that Bill Gothard was responsible for the “physical and emotional defrauding of several of his personal secretaries.”

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In February 1981, Bill once again confessed to “physically and emotionally defrauding his personal secretary.”

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So, what exactly did Bill Gothard confess to on these occasions? To those outside Institute subculture, the term “defraud” brings to mind a financial scam, but, for decades, the Institute’s operational definition of “defraud” has loaded the term with ambiguous sexual connotations. From the IBLP website at

To defraud another person is to stir up in them desires that cannot be righteously satisfied. A woman can defraud a man by the way that she dresses, talks, or acts. A man can defraud a woman by improper touching or by talking about a marital commitment that he is not able or intending to carry out.

In Institute subculture, one can “defraud” with any act from a toss of the hair to an insincere marriage proposal. With pressure building for Bill Gothard to respond to recent accounts of his years of misconduct with young women in the Institute, it is possible that he will yet again apologize for “defrauding.” We asked the women who have shared their stories through Recovering Grace what they would think of a repeat performance of Bill Gothard’s 1976, 1980, and 1981 apologies. Their responses follow.


How would you respond to a blanket apology from Bill Gothard for “defrauding” young women who were his volunteers, employees, students, and/or counselees?


Due to the broad definition of “defrauding” within ATI and IBLP circles, the use of this word is of little value. During my time as an employee, talking to someone of the opposite gender was considered defrauding, so I do not consider its use as any admittance of guilt or apology at all. Specific actions need to be stated so we will all know what he is apologizing for. Using his logic, playing footsie [with a teenager] wouldn’t be “defrauding” at all since it stirred up absolutely no feelings of romantic desire, but fully convinced me that something wasn’t right.


I remember feeling a little panicked after my dad brought up the thought, “Well, maybe he intends to court you?” when I finally shared with him how uncomfortable Bill’s special attention toward me made me feel. I wondered how one would/could ever turn down the person who invented courtship (in my mind, anyway)?! That’s when I knew I had to distance myself from him and get out of there somehow, before I “defrauded” him any more with my mere presence. (That’s how messed up my head was!) Like Grace said, his actions didn’t produce any romantic feelings in me either (unless you count nausea); they only produced guilt that I somehow caused a supposed “godly” man 43 years my senior to have unwarranted romantic feelings towards me.


A blanket apology wouldn’t mean a thing to me. He fondled me. He painted me in a bad light to other people. In so doing he ruined my name and damaged relationships that meant a lot to me, relationships that are just now being rebuilt. He needs to come to each person and admit what he did wrong to each person, because he caused different kinds of harm to all of us.


My protector. My employer. My friend. Not my suitor. If Bill Gothard had asked me to marry him I would have said yes. Not because I was in love with him, but because I believed that to serve him was to serve God, and I had given my life to God. He did not “defraud” me, for I felt no romantic attachment to him. I loved him then as my friend, spiritual mentor, and brother in Christ, not as my romantic suitor. Therein lies the difference.


The word “defrauding” is used in ATI/IBLP to compare the mildest flirtations to the the kinds of things Steve Gothard was up to in the 1970s, when Steve deceived women on his staff into thinking they were each in a long term committed relationship with him while he was in fact juggling multiple sexual relationships. The word “defrauding” is used to equivocate in the other direction as well, to put unwanted sexual advances and the most calculated attempts at seduction into the same category as accidental breaches of etiquette. The word “defrauding” is sometimes even used to describe a person who attempts a sexual assault, or used to condemn the actions and appearance of a victim of sexual assault. It can also mean smiling at the opposite sex a little too brightly. By conventional definitions of the word, the only “defrauding” that went on in my case was Bill conning me out of going to college in favor of going to Headquarters for a nonexistent project, so I would join the many other spiritually manipulated young people he uses to fill his emotional needs. The idea of an apology for sexual “defrauding” would be laughable if it weren’t so outrageous.


[Ruth passed away in 1994, but discussed the term “defrauding” in  1983 in conversation with Dr. Earl Radmacher and others.]

Dr. Radmacher: We’ve got to get away from this terminology that is so vague—the one that Bill likes to use so much is “defrauded,” which nobody understands what it means.

Ruth Gabriel: Because it means so many different things.


Dr. Radmacher: One thing that’s got to be really emphasized in that [potential statement by former IBYC staff] is clear statements and specificity… It can’t be this thing like “defrauding” or “inappropriate.” I mean, it’s got to be like a court case—a factual thing. This is what happened and describe it.

Ruth Gabriel: No emotions. Just facts.


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. Nancy February 27, 2014 Reply

    I have to hand it to Bill Gothard--he is extremely clever. He has twisted the dictionary meaning of the word defraud to mean something very vague to his followers and mean nothing to outsiders. So he is able to "confess" that he has "defrauded" women and that acts as an acceptable apology to his followers, while meaning nothing in a legal sense. That way his flock will forgive him and move on, allowing him to continue sexually harassing and molesting women on his staff. But he hasn't admitted anything that would cause him to go to prison. Very, very clever.

    • Shannon Wehr February 27, 2014 Reply

      According to WORLD, the IBLP board of directors has put Gothard on administrative leave while Recovering Grace's allegations are investigated. They are looking for new leadership in the interim. Still no statement issued from Bill himself, so I guess there won't be one at this point since the board spoke first.

    • Shannon Wehr February 27, 2014 Reply

      Oops, meant to include the link.

      • Meredith February 28, 2014 Reply

        Also more on the administrative leave here:

  2. Beverly February 27, 2014 Reply

    Oh my goodness---I never realized before that Bill can use the term defrauding and STILL feed his egotism: Using that term is basically saying, "I'm sorry my mere presence causes you to fall all over yourselves in romantic feelings for me. Tough luck---I'm not available for marriage." Haha!

    • Beverly February 27, 2014 Reply

      Also, am I the only one who sees the double-standard between how men and women defraud each other?!

      "A woman can defraud a man by the way that she dresses, talks, or acts. A man can defraud a woman by improper touching or by talking about a marital commitment that he is not able or intending to carry out."

      A man only defrauds by talking about marriage and improperly touching a woman--anything else (improper looks, how he dresses and acts) is fair game. A woman defrauds a man just by her mere existence. It's amazing how many IBLP teachings try to place the heavier burden or blame on the woman when it comes to sexual issues.

      • Lisa Joy February 27, 2014 Reply

        I find it ironic that Mr. Gothard's definition of "defrauding" for men is EXACTLY WHAT HE DOES TO WOMEN. It's like he knew his own pattern of behavior & wrote his definition from that!

      • Andrew Harper February 27, 2014 Reply

        Yes, I was picking up on this double standard as well, but I've come to believe that BG is basically chauvinist in his thinking toward women. It causes me to wonder if his mother was domineering, father absent, and now he's compensating? #butidigress

      • "Hannah" February 27, 2014 Reply

        I saw that. The woman is mentioned first, because, obviously, the primary way you defraud someone is by being female and wearing clothes. Urgh, don't get me started!!

        • Ileata Lundmark February 27, 2014

          Should we be female and *not* wear clothes? (Sorry, couldn't resist. :-) )

        • "Hannah" February 27, 2014

          Sometimes I think there would be less risk of getting it wrong, that way :p

      • esbee February 27, 2014 Reply

        I think their is something really de-Freudian going on here!

        So in Gothard speak it can be taken a step further--- a man defrauds a woman by improperly touching her or even considering marriage because she first defrauded him by how she looked, spoke and acted around him. After all if the woman wasn't standing where she could be seen by the man, he would not have had those impure thoughts of touching her, or gasp, marriage!

        Get a group of average folks, Christian or not, show them a picture of a typical Gothardly dressed woman (long loose-fitting dress, high neckline, long loose curls hair style. Tell them this is what she wore when she was accused of "defrauding" a man. Tell them her conversation was casual. "Hi, how are you. God made a pretty day today. Did you finish your Gothard workbook assignment?" etc. Then ask them if they think this woman defrauded that man with her looks or a short casual conversation THEY WOULD LAUGH OR LOOK AT YOU LIKE YOU WERE CRAZY!!!!!!!!

        Now ask them if a man improperly touching a woman would be defrauding her they would reply "I don't know what you mean by defrauding but he is certainly sexually molesting her and should be arrested."

        • Toni February 27, 2014

          de-freudian, hahahaha! I can't stop laughing. And AMEN to the rest of the comment too.

        • Shelley Randolph Romey February 27, 2014

          Hahaha! Brilliant!

      • Esther Petersen February 27, 2014 Reply

        Exactly! That is one of the things that bothered me so much about this program when I was a teenager.

      • Sarah February 28, 2014 Reply

        This definition really got to me to. Talk about sexism, and further shaming of women (and men), not to mention the idea that women don't have sexual needs, or attraction? A women could only be defrauded if a man hinted at the hope of courtship or marriage, or if he pursued "inappropriate" physical contact?
        I can't help but remember the constant brainwashing that it was a woman's responsibility to protect a man from lusting after her. If I'm too pretty, or chatty, if I wear makeup/jewelry/clothes, that cause a man to be attracted to me then its wrong of me. If a man tries to make eye contact in passing, I should look away, avoid any contact.
        This only furthers the male dominated thinking that women are the ones to blame, for original sin, for causing lust and distraction, not to mention the abusers mentality that "she asked for it." This isn't rocket science folks, this is abuse 101. Sexism 101.
        Both men and women are just as emotionally, spiritually, and sexually vulnerable. Both are held to the same responsibility to respect and protect each others rights and needs.
        Bill Gothard should be held accountable for perpetuating the inappropriate/manipulative ideology that allowed him and others to abuse their positions (in power, parental and spiritual leadership).

      • Renea March 12, 2014 Reply

        This is the result of the patriarchy teachings.

  3. mollie martin February 27, 2014 Reply

    yes , an ambiguous apology will not suffice!!

  4. Beth February 27, 2014 Reply

    I don't think it's a class action "defrauding" lawsuit that Bill Gothard stands in danger of.

  5. Beth February 27, 2014 Reply

    Apologizing for "defrauding" his women employees was Bill Gothard's unfunny predecessor to Gary Larson's infamous "Cow Tools" Far Side cartoon.

    "Working in the Washington DC of 1982, I noticed that friends and colleagues cut Gary Larson’s drawings from the Washington Post and stuck them on their fridges or office walls.

    "On 28 October of that year, they were perplexed. Larson’s drawing featured a cow (standing human-style on its hind legs) behind odd-looking objects, bones of some kind, resting on a trestle table. The caption said, ‘Cow tools’. What did it mean? Next day, there were stories on the wire services saying Larson fans nationwide were in crisis. No one got the joke in ‘Cow tools’. There were discussions on university campuses and on TV and radio shows. A reader in Texas wrote to their local paper:

    "'Enclosed is a copy of ‘Cow tools’ of last week. I have passed it round. I have posted it on the wall. Conservatively, some 40-odd professionals with doctrinal degrees in disparate sciences have examined it. No one understands it. Even my six-year-old can’t figure it out. We are going bonkers. Please help. What is the meaning of ‘Cow tools’? What is the meaning of life?'"

    • Josh February 27, 2014 Reply

      To which Gary Larson replied basically, 'There IS no meaning to it! Haha, joke's on you!'

  6. Chris Jones February 27, 2014 Reply

    If my memory serves me correctly, Gothard teaches that when someone publicly confesses a moral sin, the person confessing the sin should not describe the sin with any detail because actually describing the sin might "stir up wrong thoughts" in the person hearing the confession because the person hearing the confession would "visualize the sin" taking place in their mind and thereby cause that person to sin.

    Given Gothard's history that is now being publicly exposed, this teaching sure seems like a convenient way to justify not conveying the truth and covering up the seriousness of the offense by using vague terms.

    For Gothard, by not naming the actions directly and confessing to something as vague as "defrauding," which could mean anything from a harmless flirt to a sexual assault, he was able to escape the consequences that likely would have occurred had people actually known what he was confessing to. My guess is that if Gothard had confessed to all these pastors in the early 1980s that he had been "fondling" his secretaries rather than "defrauding" them, his career as a Christian leader would have probably been over.

    Folks this is but one example of how Gothard's teaching is so twisted and has allowed him to avoid accountability for so long. He was able to give the appearance of humility while actually using his own teaching to minimize the seriousness of the truth.

    • Beth February 27, 2014 Reply

      And yet that teaching about not describing the details of "immorality" coexisted with Gothard demanding the most intimate and specific sexual history details from women he employed and counseled.

      • Catherine February 27, 2014 Reply

        Good point.

      • Sally February 27, 2014 Reply

        I thought that too. It is as though he fed his mind on the immoral things girls would say to him much as a romantic novel would.

        Where is his mother in all this??? He has a twisted view of people in general.

        I had wondered many times "how can he know how a family (husband, wife and children) operate because he does not have one of his own"?

        The last disturbing thought I had is this... "Nowhere, anywhere would it be healthy for a christian organzation have young women working so closely with a man!!! Rev. Billy Graham took great lengths to be sure he did not have close contact with his own secretaries. Power/money feeds ego which feeds stupid, stupid actions in almost every case.

        • "Haley" February 27, 2014

          I am also wondering about his family relationships and what was going on there. It does seem odd for an adult man to live with his parents for so long (all the way until they died). Was he enmeshed with his parents? With his mother and sisters? Did they control him and demand his loyalty at all times? Sons who are enmeshed with their mothers (or sometimes fathers) often never marry due to the demands the mother places on them. Perhaps they did not give him the freedom to marry and/or perhaps they had more leverage over him than was obvious... so he contented himself with relationships with secretaries since he was too enmeshed to have the freedom to marry. I'm simply tossing around hypotheses here, but clearly here was a guy with unmet companionship needs and sexual needs but who could not take the steps to get married for whatever reason.

    • "Hannah" February 27, 2014 Reply

      Here's an idea: How about *I* worry about my thought life; you worry about being honest about what you actually did?

      This from the guy who apparently finds a sordid pleasure in detailed confessions from young girls. We should have known this twisted teaching was about him, not us.

      • Sally February 27, 2014 Reply


      • Kevin February 27, 2014 Reply

        Yes. In fact, true to the narcissist that he is, they all seem to be about him.

  7. TiaraLi February 27, 2014 Reply

    I don't think an apology - whatever the wording - will suffice anyway. He has had a pattern of decades of sexual harassment, all the while claiming to be doing the work of Christ. There is good reason to believe he may have a personality disorder, which brings its own set of challenges with it.

    If he is truly sorry, he will bear fruit of that. Some words mean little. He would need to act in such a way as to show his repentance is real. He would have to act in such a way as to put his victims above himself. Not because he has anything to gain or manipulate out of the situation, but because he genuinely cares.

    This would almost certainly mean his stepping down voluntarily. I mean, how could you have genuine sorrow for the lives you have damaged so severely while continuing to work in the same capacity, as if you'd never misused that position, the trust you were in?

    Yes, of course I hope there can be real repentance and restoration of Bill. But I'm not going to hold my breath, and it doesn't mean he can say sorry and then act as though nothing has happened.

    I'm sorry. Just - there is a criminally abusive person in my life that I now believe has a sociopathic personality disorder. To me, he said he was depressed (thinking I wouldn't go to the police). To the doctor he said his parents had probably abused him (they hadn't). To the police, he said he reserved the right to stay silent. To his parents, he said he won't get jail so he didn't do anything bad. To the church, he said he was repentant. In the midst of all this, he sent me a letter saying sorry. Yet did nothing to show that. He still refused to confess to police, he still told others he'd done nothing wrong.

    I'm in a position that I can see how many lies he's told to different people. He has become all things to all people to try and get away with what he's done. When I read the previous transcript about Bill, I wondered if he was doing a similar thing. If so, he may well have no qualms about saying sorry. But it may well be meaningless - just a way to get something he wants. And with some of his supporters being apparently blind, an empty apology would be all he needs to convince some of his followers that he was truly repentant, and this was an amazing restoration story that shows that he was a great leader for them in the future.

    Just my thoughts. And concerns.

    • Flynn February 27, 2014 Reply

      Interesting comment, TiaraLi! I think you hit the nail on the head with regards to Mr. Gothard telling different people what they want to hear, and that will appease them. Methinks Mr. Gothard would be a good poker player (if playing cards was not a 'sin'); he reads people well. What a shame that he uses that skill for evil.

    • Alex February 27, 2014 Reply

      I 100% agree that Bill displays strong evidence of having a personality disorder. At best, he shows strong tendencies of narcissistic and sociopathic behavior. I have seen this from people in my life as well, and so some of Bill's tactics are familiar to me. Many are searching for an admission of guilt from him, some kind of desire to "repent" and make restitution. In my opinion, the harsh reality of it is that this is never going to happen. This man has built his life on lies, deceit, manipulation, greed, and is a predator...always looking out for himself. With these types, even perceived kindness to others ALWAYS, ALWAYS has an ulterior motive, if only to make himself look good.

      Again, just my opinion, but I literally believe that he does not have the capacity to experience real emotion like love and selflessness, let alone a desire to make things right born out of sorrow for his actions. His mind is ill, and he should have been in therapy long, long ago. With the advancements that we have now in the science of psychology, we know that even with the best psychotherapy, recovery from sociopathic and narcissistic personality disorders is very challenging and rare to obtain. It most often just doesn't happen.

      Though it is NO EXCUSE for a life lived as Gothard has, but something either went very wrong in his childhood that caused his emotional health to become decimated, or he could have even been born with a predisposition to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Whatever the reason, I feel it needs to be bluntly stated that, given all the evidence of the way a now 80-year-old man has lived his life, he is not ever going to change or apologize, he is very sick in the head, unremorseful, etc. The best that can be hoped for is that many people currently caught up in ATI/IBLP will be woken up from their blind devotion to this man and his false principals, and the organization will be shut down to prevent future "casualties."

      • Lori February 27, 2014 Reply

        I recently came across a fascinating finding related to this.

        The Oxford University Press published a piece last summer on a study about pschyopathic criminals and empathy.

        The summary: "A brain imaging study in the Netherlands shows individuals with psychopathy have reduced empathy while witnessing the pains of others. When asked to empathize, however, they can activate their empathy."

        Here's the url:

        • Lori February 27, 2014

          So really, even if he can be categorized as a sociopath or psychopath, he has no excuse.

          (Just as the Bible says.)

        • TiaraLi February 27, 2014

          I hadn't heard that they can somehow cause themselves to have empathy. However, I do know that people with personality disorders do know that they are doing wrong and that they shouldn't do such things. They know it's wrong, they just have no empathy for their victims. If they didn't know it was wrong, they wouldn't be so good at hiding their actions. So regardless of whether or not they can develop empathy, they are still responsible for their actions. They still have free choice and a knowledge of right and wrong.

      • zooey111 February 28, 2014 Reply

        "Again, just my opinion, but I literally believe that he does not have the capacity to experience real emotion like love and selflessness, let alone a desire to make things right born out of sorrow for his actions".
        Yup. Just what I think, too. A total narcissist.

    • (attendee and former parent) February 27, 2014 Reply

      I agree with your statement except the 'stepping down' part. If he merely 'stepped down' that would leave space for someone equally sinister to 'step up'. This organization needs to be totally dismantled and the assets sold and distributed to those thousands he wronged by his teachings and actions. Otherwise, I totally agree that words are not - really NOT enough. He has used words to get where he is and I don't trust anything he has to say from here on out. His actions alone will speak for me from now on.

      • TiaraLi February 27, 2014 Reply

        I absolutely agree with you. I feel as though it's not my place to say that, though.

      • Lori February 28, 2014 Reply


    • zooey111 February 28, 2014 Reply

      I was thinking "sociopath" before I read your comment,TiaraLi. I think you've hit the nail on the head here.

  8. Nancy2 February 27, 2014 Reply

    If we put the above article in context with Webster's Dictionary maybe the actions we have read about will find clarity. Mr. Gothard claims to have defrauded his secretaries.

    The purpose of defrauding is to beat, bilk, bleed, cheat, chisel, chouse, con, cozen, fleece, diddle, do in, euchre, fiddle, flimflam, gaff, gyp, hose [slang], hustle, pluck, ream, rip off, rook, screw, shake down, short, shortchange, skunk, squeeze, stick, stiff, sting, sucker, swindle, thimblerig, victimize, extort, wrench, wrest, wring; clip, gouge, nick, overcharge, soak; exploit, milk; deceive, dupe, fool, gull, trick; rope (in); betray, bitch, double-cross; bamboozle, fast-talk.

    All this to get what he wanted an ego boost by exploiting young women then blaming it on them for existing.

    • Susanna Wesley February 27, 2014 Reply

      That list is both hilarious and seriously incriminating. It would be interesting to replace every instance of Bill's use of "defraud" in the published documents with a bunch of these words. Might make the evidence read a little differently...

      • Nancy2 February 27, 2014 Reply

        I would start with "He victimized, exploited, deceived, betrayed, and fast-talked these young women and his ministry."

    • Lori February 27, 2014 Reply

      Yep. He's disqualified. And there's no way he should EVER be allowed back into a position of spiritual authority or leadership EVER again.

  9. esbee February 27, 2014 Reply

    After attending one Gothard seminar in the early 80's I was convinced that I was sinning because I did not line up with what Gothard said pleased God. (my personality, things I liked to do, things I did not want to do, choice of clothing) Nothing sinful, just did not line with the "things you do to get God's blessing." I came to the conclusion I loved my life more than God as I could not do some of those things. I carried on living my "sinful" life.

    After much soul searching because I could not stand the "guilt" and hearing from God personally one on one, I decided that Gothard had his way of life and I had mine. He was following God's will for his life and I was following God's will for mine.

    BUT after reading all these stories about the man, how he mis-explains scripture and hearing from his victims, I have come to the conclusion that the man is just plain WRONG!

    • Nancy2 February 27, 2014 Reply

      Estée, like you I was never considered a Bill Gothard approved life. Yet I know The Lord is happy that I obeyed Him in those things He has called me to do even when they would have made Mr. Gothard cringe. Yes Gothard is WRONG! I'm happy to hear how God has moved you beyond the guilt. I love that He affirmed His creation in who you are.

      I attended my seminar in 1993. The Lord had already walked with me for over 20 years. During those years of Grace I had already given up Guilt for Lent.

    • missy March 1, 2014 Reply

      Esbee, The entire teaching of watching for sin, looking for wrong-doing, lists, rules, judgements on each other, is WRONG. It's not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ who took our sin and put it to death and us as well. The danger of the Gothard teachings are this;... 1. they don't work. 2. It's not Christianity. 3. It's a man-made attempt to look holy according to one person's idea of what that looks like. A friend who has been "schooled" in Gothard teaching was told she can not wear a necklace that is long enough to drop to the bust line as it will draw the eye to there. We are free in Christ to follow the HOLY SPIRIT who has put the law into our hearts. We are not under law.. at.. all. And it only fails anyway.
      What is really angering to me is how the board of directors skated along with these guys, Steve and Bill, all these years. These two were BOTH disqualified decades ago yet the board allowed women to be abuse sexually, emotionally and spiritually. A agree with the person who said the entire organization needs to stop all operations.. now.

  10. Samuel Lundmark February 27, 2014 Reply

    While I understood that Gothard works this way concerning the word 'defraud' and all derivitives, reading this article caused me to realize something in a bit more clear sense. I wrote my letter to the IBLP board dealing with issues that I saw and experienced which received no response in return except that they received it.

    I realize now that I did not play on Bill's turf, and he sure as heck wasn't going to play on mine since I called sin as sin and not by other lessor terms or 'game names!' I hope it scared him to death that his long-term students might not continue to bend to his games.

  11. mark_h February 27, 2014 Reply

    You don't need to know specifics because your authority has divinely-given spidey-senses for your spiritual danger, to protect you. As long as you submit, you're safe without knowing how or why. Even if your protecting authority is unsaved and living in sin and thoroughly unsafe for you, themselves. So says this one guy at a seminar, who's totally safe himself, and you don't need to know why he's safe, because your parents brought you to the seminar, and that's all you need to know.

    • phyllis February 27, 2014 Reply

      Sadly, this is so true Mark.

  12. mark_h February 27, 2014 Reply

    It's more than a bit tragic that this system of thought blames the young person "under authority" for what they allowed to happen while under authority, and while being told that they could bear no guilt for it since they were under authority. While it's happening, the story is "God only asks you to stay under authority, it's not your responsibility what happens while doing so." Years later, after the fact, the story becomes "You let this happen, you should have stopped it."

    • Trinka February 27, 2014 Reply

      Mark_H - You have hit the nail on the head here:

      While it's happening, the story is "God only asks you to stay under authority, it's not your responsibility what happens while doing so." Years later, after the fact, the story becomes "You let this happen, you should have stopped it."

      That sums the central issue up perfectly.

  13. Jim K. February 27, 2014 Reply

    I would like to see the term "defraud" disappear from the conservative Christian lexicon along with "covering", "courtship", "chain of command", "umbrella" and perhaps a few others that have been co-opted by authoritarian "ministries".

    Jim K.

    • Lori February 27, 2014 Reply

      Yes! These terms are beginning to make me gag. (I guess I still like the word "court" and its derivatives when used in the old-fashioned sense, back before it was co-opted and turned into a collection of wacky legalistic teachings - but when used in this current context, BLEH!)

      • Shane February 27, 2014 Reply

        "back before it was co-opted and turned into a collection of wacky legalistic teachings - but when used in this current context, BLEH!)" or had the adjective biblical forced upon it.

        • Lori February 28, 2014


      • Shelley Randolph Romey February 27, 2014 Reply

        That's the problem with so many of the terms we dread now. They once had entirely different meanings. Now they've been twisted and perverted.

  14. steve midkiff February 27, 2014 Reply

    excellent and instructive article and very helpful comments

  15. KH February 27, 2014 Reply

    It was previously revealed that Mr. Gothard confessed to an addiction of masturbation. In his "little world" the things he was doing to these young ladies was what excited him and fed his addiction. What better way to come up with his new "rhema" of defrauding. I mean if these things tempted him they must be the same things that tempted other young men and stole the hearts of young ladies.

    As stated above, he first defines what ladies would do that could defraud men. Again, these very things must have been what drove his fantasies! He then goes on to define what young men do to defraud young women. Now consider this...these young men, could be seen as a person that might steal the attention of the young lady away from him. They became the challenger to his twisted idea of a relationship. How many young ladies were brought into his office and told they were not to speak to a young man? How many young men were dismissed and sent home on the "walk of shame" for merely speaking to or even breathing the same air in the room of a young lady? People this is sick! He cannot just get by with asking for forgiveness for "defrauding"! I am sorry but that is not defining enough in my book. He molested these young women, he destroyed those young men he sent home for far less! (Remember how King David sent Uriah away? Is what Mr. Gothard has done any different?)

    As for Charlotte, I feel he must have had an extremely weak moment and was tempted to go beyond his mundane fantasies. Like a drug addict or an alcoholic he had to have something more. (This makes me want to puke just thinking about this!)

    Just the other day on this website, on an older thread, I read of a former ATI young man who desperately wants to eventually get married. Because of these stupid and strict rules of defrauding Mr. Gothard defined, he can't even get passed talking about the weather! He feels totally incapacitated. He is begging for help. I know of several former ATI female students who are now in their mid to late 30's who to this day remain unmarried. Without really knowing the reason as to why they remain unmarried, (I feel it is none of my business) it makes me wonder if they are just like this young man, they just don't know how to get passed talking about the weather.

    • Lori February 27, 2014 Reply

      He needed to keep those young men from encroaching on his harem. Sick.

    • "Hannah" February 27, 2014 Reply

      I have a very hard time believing Gothard molested once, and only once. As I've been saying since "Charlotte"s story came out, that I believe there are more. I hope they will come forward sooner rather than later.

  16. Lynne Sleiman February 27, 2014 Reply

    Maybe Recovering Grace has already thought of this, but it seems to me that what needs to happen is justice at this point and the only way that's likely to happen is if the most recent victims could report him to the police. We already suspect that there ARE recent victims, but we also know that it will take them so many years to recover from the brain washing that by then it will be too late to report to the police and get him stopped. It's all fine to point out how he could or couldn't confess, but it's not about him (as he seems to think) it needs to be about stopping this from happening to other girls as quickly as possible. By treating him as he wants to be treated (a great "untouchable" man) instead of like any other employer who has abused girls for.. 40 years? It's just really doing a disservice to the past victims, recent victims, and future victims. I don't know how anyone could get in touch with a recent secretary and be able to build trust with her enough to help her and bring justice to him since they are taught to be so "loyal"... Perhaps someone reading this site already knows a recent secretary though and would be able to talk to her. Too many people are enabling his sin and it all needs to stop.

    Oh and yes, the "defrauding" term. When confessing to "defrauding" someone it's just like saying, "I'm sorry I did something to make YOU sin in your mind." It's basically just admitting to being an accomplice to someone elses sin.. it's not confessing your OWN sin at all. Clever for him to use that term, yes, but that needs to stop as well.

  17. Alfred Corduan February 27, 2014 Reply

    It is a fairly precisely used Bible word:

    1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
    For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter:because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

    "Defraud his brother" is clearly in a sexual context. Here it is used of "holding out" in a marriage:

    1 Corinthians 7:5
    Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

    Do we have a better term for what Paul says here?

    • Ileata Lundmark February 27, 2014 Reply

      1 Cor. 6:7 sort of goes in the face of Gothard's definition.

      It clearly *isn't* sexual in that passage.

    • Catherine February 27, 2014 Reply

      '"Defraud his brother" is clearly in a sexual context.'

      So, a man was promising another man sex, and failed to deliver? I don't get that from the passage.

      • eva February 27, 2014 Reply

        I wondered that same thing.

      • Alfred Corduan March 2, 2014 Reply

        Raising (ultimately sexual) desires . . . And not delivering? We all know how women do that, given that males are aroused visually. Men do that mostly by touch . . . And talk. Since marriage is the only "righteous" way to satisfy those desires, once aroused, it is pretty plain to see how that definition applied here.

        • Faith R March 3, 2014

          I love how you insist on lumping everyone into categories.

        • Time Marches On March 3, 2014

          I am not being sarcastic when I say that I genuinely do not understand what "pretty plain" meaning you describe here for the word as used in this verse, which uses all masculine terms.

    • eva February 27, 2014 Reply

      Get your your Strong's and look up the different words translated "defraud". Neither are used exclusively in a sexual context. But they could be used there. It can be used as "to take advantage of". Oh, Alfred, if you could only see the truth of how much falsehood Bill Gothard has taught to millions of people.

    • Lori February 27, 2014 Reply

      The point is, Mr. Gothard has used the term, and is likely to consider using it in the future (according to his past track record) to effectively obfuscate the unconscionable and disgusting things he has done to young women.

    • Beth February 27, 2014 Reply

      Remember those times Bill Gothard apologized to staff and board members for withholding sex from his secretaries?

      I certainly don't think he would be thrill with your interpretation of the word in context of his apologies. I could appreciate Bill using that definition or the word if that was consistently how he used it, and how the organization used it.

      In ATI/IBLP I can't think of any time I heard "defraud" used to describe any form of sexual intercourse; that fell into the category of "physical relationship" or "immorality." Students and staff who were chastised for "defrauding" were being rebuked for being too flirty or looking too sexy, with a wildly flexible range of behaviors potentially fitting those categories.

      So, the problem with an unusual definition of "defrauding" isn't just the formal definition, but the fact that it's application has been a moving target for forty years. As Earl and Ruth said, "nobody understands what it means...because it means so many different things."

    • mitchell chapman February 27, 2014 Reply

      thanks Alfred

      Hope you can be a reformer at the Institute and begin to change things.
      You are very loyal to Bill and maybe Bill will take you giving him correction.

    • Arch Radish February 27, 2014 Reply

      The problem is that it is a very imprecisely used term every time Bill Gothard uses it. That's kind of the point of the article.

    • Time Marches On February 27, 2014 Reply


      "Alfred Corduan April 1, 2012

      "'Hannah': 'Defrauding', as you will know if you have an IBLP background, starts with and usually means, "Making someone think you are planning on marrying them". The application is usually to dating."


      "So . . . if he got close to a young lady – and he apparently did – and led her to believe that he was 'getting serious', but wasn’t, and there were hard feelings . . . THAT would be defrauding. The person is to have said clearly, 'Bill never abused me'. I know this person has gone home to be with the Lord and the family emphatically does not want any more inquiries or involvement on this. So one is left with what one has."


      "It is also clear that Bill really didn't understand the extent of what was going on behind his back. So a joint confession of 'defrauding' would make sense if he really believed all his brother was doing was 'getting close' to young ladies emotionally and breaking hearts."


      "I take a deep breath before I say the following: Bill said to me twice, different occasions, when this came up: "I have NEVER seen nor touched the private parts of a woman"."


      • "Hannah" February 27, 2014 Reply

        Good summary! I'm impressed with your ability to pull things together.

      • Taylor Joy March 1, 2014 Reply

        Thank you TimeMarchesOn. I was going to give a snarky reply to Alfred on how brainwashed he still is, but you were much, much more thorough and specific about his unbelievable, continuing defense of Gothard in the face of all of this garbage.

      • Alfred Corduan March 1, 2014 Reply

        I correctly represented the definition and it's application in relation to Ruth. Bill never sexually abused her at any level, this the testimony of her husband. As to the single account of actual sexual improprieties in 50 years of ministry, I believe it is a fabrication. We shall see.

        • Time Marches On March 2, 2014


          For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and [insincerely hint that he would like to marry] his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

          1 Corinthians 7:5
          [Insincerely talk of future marriage] ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

        • Time Marches On March 2, 2014

          You are free to doubt the allegations, but less so to call the acts in question "sexual improprieties." The actions described are classified as aggravated criminal sexual abuse in the state in which they took place, since they involved a minor, and someone under 18 over whom Gothard held authority. That is worlds away from a consensual sexual encounter with an adult.

    • Christopher Jones February 27, 2014 Reply

      Alfred the pont of this article is not to discuss how the english term "defraud" is used in the Bible. This isnt really relevant to this article. The point is to show how Gothard uses the term.

      Here, the evidence is overwhelming that Gothard was using the term to obfuscate the facts to appear contrite while avoiding the consequences of what would happen if the truth were known.

      Imagine what would have happened to Gothard's credibility if he had confessed to "fondling" his secretaries rather than to "defrauding" them instead. It's like Bill Clinton saying "I did not have sex with that woman." Using the term defraud completely understates the severity of the facts.

    • Matthew Watkins February 27, 2014 Reply

      Alfred - you are confusing as all get out. You appear to be saying that the Biblical definition, and ergo - Bill Gothard's intention in using the term defrauding is clearly sexual in connotation.

      So on the multiple occasions where Billy G confessed to "defrauding" it means he had actually engaged in a sexual activity with a woman (or girl...)? However you appear to still maintain the belief that he did not lie to you (or millions of others) about ever engaging in sexual activity of any sort?

      • Taylor Joy March 1, 2014 Reply

        Hey, Alfred was ok with his own daughters being treated differently by Gothard based on how they LOOK. I'm not surprised that he's bending his opinions around like Gumby on steroids to defend Gothard at this point.

      • Alfred Corduan March 1, 2014 Reply

        My point was that the Biblical usage is about sex, marriage, not money. Leading someone on sexually, maritally . . . Raising hopes, desires. People "dating" take liberties that others don't . . . Including sitting on laps, laying side by side gazing at the stars . . . And talking about marriage. If you do those things, as he did, and not really intend to marry the girl, THAT is defrauding.

        • Nick March 3, 2014

          So by your evaluation, he has defrauded.

          According to the timelines, he has "done these things" (as you put it) to multiple girls at the same time. He could not have intended to marry all of them (at least I hope not!!!), so thus he was defrauding some of them.

          Ergo, by your logic, Bill Gothard has defrauded. Am I correct?

    • Ryan Sapp February 27, 2014 Reply

      Most of the Gentiles I know carry their moral life with a lot more honor than Bill Gothard.

    • Mike February 28, 2014 Reply

      I'm curious how often it's used in a non-KJV version.

  18. Andrew February 27, 2014 Reply

    DEFRAUD: To make a Misrepresentation of an existing material fact, knowing it to be false or making it recklessly without regard to whether it is true or false, intending for someone to rely on the misrepresentation and under circumstances in which such person does rely on it to his or her damage. To practice Fraud; to cheat or trick. To deprive a person of property or any interest, estate, or right by fraud, deceit, or artifice.

    Ex: He defrauded millions of Christians by twisting Scripture to suit his fancies.

    • Nancy2 February 27, 2014 Reply

      Thank you Andrew.

  19. Andrew February 27, 2014 Reply

    Ex: He defrauded his wife by withholding sex from her.

  20. Andrew February 27, 2014 Reply

    "To deprive a person of property or any interest, estate, or right by fraud, deceit, or artifice"

  21. Jim K. February 27, 2014 Reply

    ... No man ... defraud his brother IN ANY MATTER (Pardon the caps.. I don't have a way to underline or highlight). Seems this passage is addressing many things beyond sexuality.

  22. another former student February 27, 2014 Reply

    A simple word study of "defraud." The Greek word in I Thess. 4:6 is pleonekteo. It can be found 5 places in the New Testament. For Alfred's sake I quote them here in the KJV. But it is interesting how other versions translate this word. The English for pleonekteo is in all caps.

    II Cor. 2:11 Lest Satan should GET AN ADVANTAGE of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

    II Cor. 7:2 Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have DEFRAUDED no man.

    II Cor. 12:17 Did I MAKE A GAIN of you by any of them whom I sent unto you? 18 I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus MAKE A GAIN of you? Walked we not in the same spirit? Walked we not in the same steps?

    I Thess. 4:6 That no man go beyond and DEFRAUD his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.

    Other versions use such English words as: outwit, take advantage, wrong. The simple Strong's definition is basically to be covetous, to have more, or a greater part or share, to gain or take advantage of another.

    This word can be used in a sexual context, but more often than not it just means to want something that is someone else's and take advantage of them to get it.

    • Nancy2 February 27, 2014 Reply

      You beat me to it 'Another Former Student'!

      B2. Advantage [Verb] pleonekteo lit., "to seek to get more" (pleon, "more," echo, "to have"); hence, "to get an advantage of, to take advantage of." In 2 Cor 7:2 the AV has "defrauded," the RV, "took advantage of;" in 1 Thess 4:6, AV, "defraud," RV, "wrong." In the other three places the RV consistently translates it by the verb "to take advantage of," 2 Cor 2:11, of Satan's effort to gain an "advantage" over the church, through their neglect to restore the backslider; in 2 Cor 12:17,18, AV, "make a gain of." See DEFRAUD, GAIN, WRONG.

    • Shane February 27, 2014 Reply

      You guys are confusing the matter with exegesis. That's not allowed.

      • Nancy2 February 27, 2014 Reply

        That's because we are up to out steeples in Biblical Hermeneutics.

      • Mike February 28, 2014 Reply

        Thanks Shane! We need a voice of reason around here to guide us ;)

    • Beth February 27, 2014 Reply

      Bravo! So Bill turns the word inside out, using "defrauding" to describe the object of sexual desire, rather than the person filled with desire who uses unscrupulous means to obtain. In that sense Bill did "defraud" those women, but it's the exact opposite of the way he defines and uses the word, and hardly stirred up any desires in them.

      • Nancy2 February 27, 2014 Reply


        And as Scott Johnson stated below "It is clear by definition that defrauding is in any way taking advantage of another from a superior position. As affirmed by the authority teaching of IBLP and stated by Bill, students and staff at HQ or other facilities were under his authority and their parents had ceded their authority to him while they were there. Clearly, Bill has placed himself in a superior position over staff and students by his own admission.

        As a subordinate, you can not by definition defraud a superior. However the superior can indeed defraud a subordinate. Based on the testimonies here on RG we see this has occurred now over 40 years. "

        It wasn't possible for "The Girls" to be guilty of defrauding Mr. Gothard by their appearance or countenance because they weren't his superior,

  23. Scott Johnson February 27, 2014 Reply

    The passage most used in the "defrauding" teaching of IBLP comes from I Thessalonians 4, specifically verse 6.

    [1Th 4:6 KJV]
    6 That no [man] go beyond and defraud his brother in [any] matter: because that the Lord [is] the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.

    The word defraud here as defined by the oft used Strong's Concordance is Strong's #g4122:

    to have more, or a greater part or share
    to be superior, excel, surpass, have an advantage over
    to gain or take advantage of another, to overreach

    It is clear by definition that defrauding is in any way taking advantage of another from a superior position. As affirmed by the authority teaching of IBLP and stated by Bill, students and staff at HQ or other facilities were under his authority and their parents had ceded their authority to him while they were there. Clearly, Bill has placed himself in a superior position over staff and students by his own admission.

    As a subordinate, you can not by definition defraud a superior. However the superior can indeed defraud a subordinate. Based on the testimonies here on RG we see this has occurred now over 40 years.

    It is also ironic to note that this verse falls within the context of Paul's teaching on moral purity and setting the standard of holiness and instruction to exercise self-control to be honorable and not fall prey to lust.

    [1Th 4:1-6 KJV]
    1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort [you] by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, [so] ye would abound more and more.
    2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.
    3 For this is the will of God, [even] your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
    4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
    5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
    6 That no [man] go beyond and defraud his brother in [any] matter: because that the Lord [is] the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.

    To be honorable could also be defined as being "above reproach." This is the standard to which we are called to as followers of the Way and to love each other with a pure heart, fervently.

    So now the questions to Bill are very simple.

    Will you follow the Word of God and submit yourself to it to be "above reproach" in repentance and not excuse?

    Repentance without strings attached and cover-up?

    Repent and show the world a new approach to life - one free of deception, lies, cover-up, manipulation, defrauding, control, and abuse.

    I close with the loving words of God to his Bride in Laodicea, specifically verse 19:

    [Rev 3:14-20 KJV]
    14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
    15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
    16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
    17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
    18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
    19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
    20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

  24. Ryan Sapp February 27, 2014 Reply

    One simple question: Did Bill Gothard conduct himself in a way that was in line with his teachings?

    • Sad February 27, 2014 Reply

      Simple answer: NO!!

  25. Betty February 27, 2014 Reply

    Dear sweet ladies: Lizzy, Charlette, Rachel, Meg and Grace, and Ruth's family,(and any other "defrauded"): I am so sorry.

    And to RG and the rest of us, may we (comtinue to), "DO JUSTLY, LOVE MERCY, and WALK HUMBLY with our God. I will persist with you; You have done so well in gathering factual information. Keep it up. I am with you. All the way. Our Merciful God is a Just God. May He 'lift you up.'

  26. Dave February 27, 2014 Reply

    I wonder how much this kind of word twisting was served well by the exclusive use of the King James Version? Whereas other versions seek to use words that are common today, the KJV allows teachers to define words that are not in common use according to their own perspectives. In other words, if you don't know what it means and you let me tell you what it means, then I can use whatever meaning serves me best. Consider: fornication, concupiscence, helpmeet, iniquity, etc.

    • Nancy2 February 27, 2014 Reply

      Exactly! Hasn't a few talked about finding Scriptural inconsistencies when they would do the Wisdom Booklets? I wonder if this word twisting was equally as evident in them.

    • Nick March 3, 2014 Reply

      Insightful question, I hadn't thought of this before.

  27. barb February 27, 2014 Reply

    from this a MAN can just "say" I apologies by defrauding (mphmph)with never a real I am sorry (seems no one knows those words anymore at least to say an really mean)...where a woman is just sorry for being a woman (female)

  28. A J L February 27, 2014 Reply

    I was locked in a prayer closet and forced to fast for defrauding a leader during my hell in Indianapolis for the way my navy skirt hung on my hips. Bill also told me on several occasions that my hair could defraud someone because my curls were too worldly and that I needed soft flowing curls, he then proceeded to tell tme what styling products I needed and how I should fix it. I understand that some need an apology for the abuse suffered in order to move on, I will never forgive the institute for the emotional abuse I suffered during my decade in the ATIA cult, nor do I believe that bill or any of the other leaders deserve forgiveness. If I as a teenager who grew up being brainwashed with Bill's religion was able to recognize the religion for what it was and choose to leave at the cost of being disowned by my family and forced to make my own way without any support, than the leaders who were grown adults should have recognized it too. They also deserve a share of the blame. I decided that satans' darts out from under the umbrella were more appealing than religion and I acted on that decision with everything to loose, as it turns out, I gained my freedom. The leaders in the institute had something to gain for turning a blind eye, shame on all of them!

    • Nancy2 February 27, 2014 Reply

      AJL, you have every right in the world to feel hurt and angry. I am thankful you are free from this organization. I pray their wrong doctrine, and treatment hasn't caused you continued doubt in the Lord's deep and abiding love for you.

    • David February 27, 2014 Reply

      I hear stories like this and it makes me realize what happens when being under the law is taken right down to the core. It destroys people -- the Bible does says that those who are under the law are under a curse. It is absolute death -- all in the name of Christ. You listen to the things Bill Gothard teaches and the things he does -- even the little things -- and it makes you realize that you are dealing with a man who has been given up to the futility of his own twisted mind. This is NOT the work of the Spirit of God. Even an unbeliever would recognize the utter stupidity of such an environment, and yet Gothard supporters continue to celebrate it.

      • Lori February 28, 2014 Reply


    • Shane February 27, 2014 Reply

      AJL- What you have described is ministerial spiritual ABUSE! I'm grieved and angered again at the stories coming out and at the defense of this sku'balon!! (The only cuss word I thought wouldn't offend anyone)

    • Sad February 27, 2014 Reply

      A J L, I thank you for sharing your experience. For Alfred, or any of the other occasional defenders here on the site, I would like to direct you to the Basic Seminar Manual. Page 15. Entry "F" that states "there is no such thing as a universal ideal" regarding a persons OUTWARD APPEARANCE.

      And yet, here is BG, as time and again, preaching to a girl how she should fix her hair. I then look at all the photos of IBLP / ATI families dressed like cookie cutters. And look at the virtual "uniform of the day" that has been required to be worn in the past. No "universal ideal"? Yeah, right. :( The very definition of hypocrisy is someone who makes rules and then does not follow them.

      Deplorable. No excuses.

      • Alfred Corduan March 1, 2014 Reply

        Click on my name. We are an ATI family. You are full of stereotypes.

        I bet if I compare your family to any family in India, or Africa, I would clearly see that you are also a conformist, Western culture. Should you be shamed, I am wondering?

        It is true that most of us like the standards Bill espouses. If you don't, God bless you . . . but stop judging.

        • TiaraLi March 3, 2014

          When a group all start to look alike, whether it is because they all think they like these values or whether it's because someone held a gun to their head, it's a recognised sign of a cult.

          This is not people just judging anyone who's different from the outside world, it's people stating recognised issues of concern that they see in a group that raises multiple warning signs.

        • Sad March 6, 2014

          Alfred I think you miss my primary point of my comment, I guess it was not as clear as I thought. Here is my sticking point from AJL's testimony - "...he then proceeded to tell tme what styling products I needed and how I should fix it."

          Grossly inappropriate for BG to instruct a girl on how to "fix herself". Especially since he teaches there is no "universal ideal", but, yet, he grooms the girls in his employ to all look the same.

          The only people in position to speak to this girl's appearance would be her parents. Period. And once she is an adult, it is up to her how she dresses and carries herself.

          As for the IBLP "Uniform"...suit yourself. It is not for me. Nor my family & friends.

    • Marsha February 27, 2014 Reply

      Locking someone in a closet is called false imprisonment and it is a felony. I am so sorry for the way you were mistreated.

    • Sheila Warner February 27, 2014 Reply

      This is an excellent comment. I am so creeped out that BG actually discussed hair styling products with a teenager. It's no wonder that so many young girls were abused. He was sinister in how he wormed his way into their brains. This just sickens me.

    • Lori February 28, 2014 Reply

      I too am so sorry - and angry - for the way you were treated, AJL. How terrible to be abandoned by your own family. I can't even imagine the pain and fear. I wish I could travel through time and space to give that young girl who was you the comfort, love and support she needed. I wish you well.

    • Alfred Corduan March 2, 2014 Reply

      ["I was locked in a prayer closet and forced to fast for defrauding a leader during my hell in Indianapolis for the way my navy skirt hung on my hips."]

      "A J L": Can you corroborate this? Anyone else that was there that can validate your account? Frankly this doesn't sound right, I have never heard of such a thing - locked in a closet, forced to fast? If it happened as you said, something definitely will be done to follow up.

      • KH March 2, 2014 Reply

        Here you go Alfred, my son was forced to sit in the "prayer closet" for a day! It might not be the same day as AJL but it happened! Man you have got to wake up and smell the roses! Bill Gothard is a complete fraud! You sir, have been hornswoggled!

        • Alfred Corduan March 3, 2014

          Where and when was this? Who was the administrator at the time? Is your son available to email me on this?

        • J.B. March 3, 2014


          I'm firmly convinced that you could have all the proof in the world of Gothard's "improprieties" and abusive, manipulative tendencies and still find ways to dismiss the accounts that tear down the reality that you've constructed for yourself.

      • Nick March 3, 2014 Reply

        Alfred, I don't believe that you have never heard of this, considering the amount of research on IBLP and Gothard that you claim to have done.

        The locked closets and other abuses were the subject of investigations over a decade ago:

        Also, there are several articles on RG detailing this sort of abuse. Have you never read them??


        Since all of this has happened just as AJL said, how do you plan to follow up, as per your comment above?

      • Nick March 3, 2014 Reply

        Alfred, I didn't clarify in my post above, but I believe you here. You said "Frankly this doesn't sound right, I have never heard of such a thing"

        So I trust you, I don't think you're lying. I just find it hard to believe you have not come across, during your research, some of the accounts of this sort of abuse.

        At any rate, I look forward to seeing what will be done to follow up.

        • greg r March 3, 2014

're new here , kid , aren't you ?/ As in "Alfred... I trust you.."

      • Alfred Corduan March 3, 2014 Reply

        I read This was a the ITC and part of the discipline enforced for state appointed juvenile offenders. Would be a "time out" punishment. I was not aware of what enforcement techniques were at their disposal, but they would need some. As the article points out, claims of abuse were thoroughly investigated and found to be unsubstantiated. That I knew. Meaning the "closet" -which was no closet- was not abusive. About the least they should do. Anyone care to clarify?

        • Nick March 3, 2014

          Did you even read the 10 part article I linked for you?? ( It does not state whether or not the claims were unsubstantiated.

          I think you are confusing the above article with another article, namely the one listed on your website:

          The WISH-TV article is part of an investigation run by News 8. You can read the entire investigation log here:

          WISH-TV and WTHR are separate organizations, they both ran investigations on IBLP abuse at ITC.

        • Nick March 3, 2014

          You said: "As the article points out, claims of abuse were thoroughly investigated and found to be unsubstantiated. That I knew. Meaning the "closet" -which was no closet- was not abusive."

          You misquoted the article twice. The WISH-TV article does not use the word "thoroughly" Also, the article does not refer to the existence or non-existence of a closet.

          Definition of "unsubstantiated" from (

          "unsupported by other evidence; used to describe an allegation where evidence cannot show or support that the allegation actually happened"

          Just because the claims of abuse were found to be unsubstantiated does NOT meant they did not happen.

          Alfred you must understand that the court investigation of 2006 was for a specific set of claims... that specific set of claims were unsubstantiated.

          Just because the claims were unsubstantiated does not mean the actual abuse did not occur.

          And it does not mean that other abuses did not, and have not, occured before and after the investigation.

          You should not use this specific case in 2006 to categorically deny any and all claims of abuse against IBLP. I suggest that you please stop doing so.

      • Alfred Corduan March 3, 2014 Reply

        Can anyone clarify specifically how fasting figured into this? I am assuming any technique of this sort was approved by the government authorities that were overseeing this.

        • Matthew Watkins March 3, 2014

          You base a lot of beliefs on assumptions.

        • Nick March 3, 2014

          So you were aware of the accusations... but on March 2, 2014 you said:

          "Frankly this doesn't sound right, I have never heard of such a thing - locked in a closet, forced to fast?"

          So why did you claim this, then later admit to the contrary?

          Please read these articles as well:


          Thank you.

        • Nick March 3, 2014

          "I am assuming any technique of this sort was approved by the government authorities that were overseeing this."

          There were no "government authorities" overseeing this. There was a single investigation in 2006 regarding a specific set of claims of abuse. That specific set of claims was unsubstantiated.

          You assumed incorrectly.

          Read the Fasting articles here on RG for more details of how people at ITC were denied food:

          <a href=""

      • AJL March 6, 2014 Reply

        Alfred, I understand that it is difficult to believe the stories, frankly, I have a difficult time believing some of the stuff that I went through during my decade plus in ATIA. I am just beginning to overcome my past and I am in my late 30's, it has taken me this long to come to terms with what I went through during my time in the Indianapolis and Russia compounds. I rarely share my past with others because it is so bizarre, but yes, it really did happen. I'm sure that the student who was placed in watch over my door can corroborate. It was the early 90's, I was a young teenager, I don't remember the names of the people in charge, nor am I interested in finding out who they were. They have been left in the past for me and I have moved on despite my past. I was not allowed to eat for a day (that is what fasting is) I call it forced because it was not my choice to not eat. There were Juvenile delinquents at the hotel, they were trained to tell others about the light that they saw in our eyes and other nonsense as a part of their rehabilitation. I could share other stories but it sounds as though you are not open to hearing them. I'm glad your family found a program that works for you, consider yourself one of the few. I have been out of it long enough to see the devastation that it has caused for the people that went through it with me.

    • Willy (female) September 20, 2015 Reply

      Dear AJL, (Feb. 27, 2014)

      I am a 'very seasoned' senior citizen and am just reading your testimony today, 9/20/15. Perhaps you will never read this response.... My heart goes out to you as well as all those other young people who have been abused by this 'sexual groomer' (to say the least!!)

      (My own involvement with the 'seminars' (as a young mom) took place just after I accepted Jesus as Savior in 2/79. What a mistake, of course. My sons and I continue to suffer the consequences of BG indoctrination. That scenario is for another time...)

      I am also responding to state that I certainly agree that the OTHER LEADERS of the time period should indeed be held accountable!! They may not have known everything, but they knew enough ......!!!! It is beyond disgusting for them to have helped with the cover up!!!!

      At this point in my life, I know enough to recognize 'indoctrination into a cult'. I began in depth research into the 'Institute' at the end of May after Josh Duggar's teenage 'poor choices' were revealed to the world. It was then that I happened upon Recovering Grace. I have spent hundreds of hours in these past several months reading every RG story as well as anything else I could find associated with Gothardism including book publications. (ex. 'A Matter of Basic Principles')

      I understand that well known families such as the Duggars & Bates have been well indoctrinated into Gothard's gospel for many years. These families and others, who remain entrenched in this legalistic lifestyle, must be well aware of the controversy (to say the least) that surrounds Gothard's teaching not to mention all of the sexual allegations targeted toward him. Are they just blindly trusting that Bill Gothard has done no wrong and that there has never been a cover up of sexual immorality at his facilities??

      If my post is read, would anyone like to comment regarding my query??

      My prayers go out to all of those who were involved and continue to struggle in the aftermath of the insanity...

      In His Grip,
      ^i^ ^i^ ^i^

      • Larne Gabriel September 20, 2015 Reply


        You have a very astute observation. The Christian leaders of the day(1980)when approached either rebuked the staff that were trying to seek a Godly resolution and Bill's repentance (Matthew 18:15-17) or refused to get involved. They too will have to answer for their actions before a Holy and Just God when they meet their maker.

        1980 Staff

  29. LJ February 27, 2014 Reply

    Thank you, Recovering Grace, for all that you have been doing in exposing Bill Gothard for the evil person he is. I have been praying for you and will continue to do so. This is a spiritual battle. I am thankful for all who are standing with you to bring out the truth and keep others from being harmed.

  30. kevin February 27, 2014 Reply

    Breaking News!

    Thank you Recovering Grace Team.

    Thank you to all the brave women who have come forward to tell their stories, that no one else might be preyed upon by Bill Gothard:

    • Marie February 27, 2014 Reply

      I echo Kevin's comment. Thank you, RG and thank you to the brave people who have told their stories.

    • Sad February 27, 2014 Reply

      While it is good to see the news from World Magazine, I am not exactly optimistic at the moment. BG has proven himself quite able to wiggle his way out of trouble in the past. I am praying that real Justice will prevail.

      Thanks again to RG for the work they do. Praying for you all daily.

    • Nancy2 February 27, 2014 Reply

      Praise the Lord! Thank you to those who shared their history. And thank you to Recovering Grace for bringing the truth forward.

    • kevin February 27, 2014 Reply

      And brave men- Marcus, Ryan, Mathew and so many others.

  31. Shane February 27, 2014 Reply

    Wow. Yes. Thank you to all who have shared their stories and RG for their diligence and deliberate methodical approach. You guys have told a story that's too freakin' fat to fit under the rug.

    Your best imagination of Morgan Freeman's voice: "Geology is the study of pressure and time. That's all it takes really, pressure, and time." (Shawshank Redemption)

    This is step one. Keep applying the pressure!

    • kevin February 27, 2014 Reply

      Yes, keep applying the pressure. I would encourage anyone who has Facebook to either link the World Magazine article or "like" it, so that it continues to reach more and more people. I think we are likely to see some big players pick up the story in the next few weeks. Everyone must be warned about BG, his predatory behavior and his false teachings.

  32. Sheila Warner February 27, 2014 Reply

    We need to apply the proper terminology here. Unwanted sexual attention is a best, sexual harassment. At worst, as in the fondling, it is sexual assault. What Bill Gothard did was immoral, unethical, and in some cases, criminal. It boggles the mind.

  33. Ryan Sapp February 27, 2014 Reply

    Bill Gothard on administrative leave. I just hope justice is served for the women who have been victims of his.
    I may have to go back to my regularly scheduled life now.

  34. Joe February 28, 2014 Reply

    This is embarrassing. Am I the only one that thinks discussing the term "defraud" is slightly embarrassing? Not that he didn't do ridiculous and criminal stuff. But debating the term defraud gives credence to it, like it's an actual thing, or a proper way to describe his or anyone's actions related to sexual harrassement. The term is a shining monument to vagueness!

    This is totally off topic, but I couldn't help but notice how in the comments regarding Steve Gothard and his sexual harrassment... there was talk in the article of trying to get one of the women's fathers to marry Steve so the problems would go away. The comment section was full of lines like, "Like any father would agree to give his daughter away to a creep like that..." or "No father in their right mind would give his daughter to Steve..." Hahahaha holy crap, talk about missing the point! What about the WOMEN? Shouldn't THEY be making the decision? What a patriarchal load of crap to insinuate the women were their Father's to give. They hated steve for what he did. Why would THEY ever agree to it? Are we still really living in a world where father's own their daughters into adulthood? Not one person mentioned this. Not one person saw these comments as anything other than continuing in stupidity. And it worries me that this is the site of people who GOT AWAY from Gothardism... but apparently still believe strongly in bronze-age gender roles and patriarchy. Seems crazy to me, as a guy, that not a single woman commenter mentioned the women's opinion on whether they would marry Steve. Bizarre!

    • TiaraLi March 1, 2014 Reply

      If those women were still in ATI, then yes, it's entirely possible that they expected their fathers to find a spouse for them.

      Yes, it's wrong. It's very wrong. But, as a few people around here have pointed out, the sexual abuse/harassment angle is dramatic enough that it is finally getting some attention. Sadly, many are missing the point that the actual theology behind ATI is wrong and damaging. There are articles on this site about that.

      I don't think there are people here who still believe in courtship etc. But the reality is that many of the girls who were involved in the situation may well have still believed such at the time that this was going on.

    • Willy (female) September 20, 2015 Reply

      Willy 9/20/15


      NO, I cannot imagine even one of the young girls/woman agreeing to marry Steve!! (He kept them all 'on a string' each believing that she 'was the special one'. And, yes, 'in the real world' the decision would be the young lady's to make.

      Even IF a girl's father, who Gothard appealed to as per his 'umbrella of protection' permitted a marriage, I cannot imagine ONE 'potential bride' who would not rebel by kicking and screaming!!

      I cannot imagine one individual 'recovering from the insanity' continuing to believe in bronze-age gender roles and patriarchy. :+)

      NOTE: (Why would Bill believe that marriage would 'squelch Steve's horrific sexual appetite for 'variety'?? All of the young girls 'groomed' by Bill did nothing to stop him in his relentless pursuit of conquering even more of the 'specific type' that appealed to him.) Gosh, I thought he received 'special insight from God' as to the answers for all of his *dilemmas??
      *I prefer this word choice with regard to Bill Gothard as its definition indicates: Dilemma - A choice between equally undesirable alternatives of which neither possibility is unambiguously acceptable or preferable.



      • Don Rubottom September 21, 2015 Reply

        1. Many people of both fundamentalist and liberal bent believe marriage is a cure for promiscuity. Look at the arguments for gay marriage and against celibate priests.
        2. Many girls throughout history have accepted the "you broke it, you bought it" approach to loss of virginity and there would be reason for Bill and Steve to hope that at least one would be happier to marry than be single with a reputation. After all, marriage is the sanction for fornication in the law.
        3. Don't project onto people living these stories 35 years ago, your egalitarian mainstream views of today. 1980 was a different time. the Gothard world was very out of step with contemporary culture and few entrenched enough to be seduced by Steve would have totally rejected the values and culture simply because Steve "strung them along". Women in many cultures succumb to such scoundrels simply because they have power and prestige.

        Of course, marriage is no more a cure for lust than a banquet is a cure for gluttony. But Gothard did not understand the holiness and Godliness of covenantal, spousal love: to them, all sensuality was fleshly, fallen, evil. Based on such a view, it is difficult to see any relationship meeting the Genesis 2 pattern to which Jesus pointed us all ("one flesh" "naked and unashamed"). The patriarchal emphasis on wifely submission to a husband's "rule" and authority show how they see marriage only as a manifestation of the Genesis 3 curse. They could use a little John Paul II, Theology of the Body, to clean up their hearts and minds, and to elevate their view of their sisters.

  35. Regina March 2, 2014 Reply

    I will simplify for the sake of this post. Bill Gothard was, is and probably always will be a bully. The worst kind of bully. The kind that controls your every thought. The kind that accuses wrong doing by the innocent. The kind who thinks God isn't watching. That makes me wonder. Who is bullying Bill Gothard? The answer is quiet compelling being that he is so clever & cunning.

  36. Anonymous March 3, 2014 Reply

    Those of us reading this website who are believers truly need to fervently pray for Bill Gothard and I trust that most are. I have been thinking of what it would be like if I were in his shoes right now. No matter how deeply people have been hurt, by the grace of God, we need to choose to not have hearts of personal revenge and bitterness, but allow God to deal with him. I am in total agreement with what Recovering Grace is doing, I'm just warning against revengeful and bitter heart attitudes... Think of this: isn't it significant that the Lord is allowing Mr. Gothard this experience in his later years, before meeting Him face to face, to repent of these alleged accusations, whatever is truly sin, only God knows exactly all that he is guilty of. Please pray for him. God loves him so very much. Believers need to choose to be a bridge for him to repent and come to the Lord. Don't make it harder for him by any ugliness in comments, though I fully understand how easy it is. Maybe try to think of him as you would a beloved physical family member that has made many sinful is a choice, not always comes with feeling...we, believers, need to seek through the power of the Holy Spirit to "be Jesus" to him. With all that said, I am in no way meaning to overlook any of the damage done to others that he sinned against. Just focusing on his needs in this comment.

    • D. T. Lancaster March 9, 2014 Reply

      Let's talk about "bitterness" and the "bitter root" Mr. Gothard so often warns about.

      One of the Gothard teachings I often heard emphasized was the warning against harboring unforgiveness and allowing a bitter root to spring up. It’s a useful teaching for a spiritual authority who wants to silence victims.

      The “bitter root” teaching cites Hebrews 12:15-17:

      See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. (Hebrews 12:15-17)

      Ironically, the “root of bitterness” in this passage has nothing to do with unforgiveness or harboring personal resentments or anger. Instead, it refers directly back to Deuteronomy 29:18 where Moses warns the children of Israel about individuals who might consider themselves exempt from obedience and repentance:

      Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, 'I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.' This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike. (Deuteronomy 29:18-19)

      In context in Deuteronomy, the “bitter root” is a person who willfully transgresses in “stubbornness of heart,” confident that the rules of divine justice and punishment do not apply to him. In the epistle to the Hebrews, the “bitter root” is a person who willfully transgresses through sexual immorality and through whom “many become defiled.” He is called a “bitter root” because (like the man in Deuteronomy 29) he believes that the rules do not apply to him. Later, when facing the consequences, he weeps and pleads with tears, but the he does not find the way to true repentance.

      Grace and Peace,
      Pastor D. Thomas Lancaster

      • P.L. March 9, 2014 Reply

        Thank you for your clarification about the root of bitterness, Pastor Lancaster. When I hear the term used, I consider it a tell-tale sign of someone who is still trapped in Gothard's false teachings. Ironic, isn't it, that the true biblical definition actually condemns Bill Gothard's behavior, not in any way his victims.

  37. […] Bill Gothard and his brother, Steve, had some surprising confessions to make to the staff of IBYC: they had “defrauded” staff secretaries. In the months prior to this, some of the young ladies had sought out the help of other staff […]

  38. […] Defrauding: What does it mean? […]

  39. Frank April 14, 2014 Reply

    Defrauding and inordinate affections are biblical terms and are morally wrong. They are factual and they are real. We must avoid them both. They might not be the type of activity a civil court could deal with, but God will deal with all these things at the judgment. Jesus said don't offend one of these little ones, for if you do, it would be better that a milstone were hung around your neck and that you be cast into the sea.

    Jesus said, Whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. To Jesus this was real.

    When this first came up in the institute in the 1980's he should have been asked to step down. That it went on for so long is the crime.

    All that being said, our job as believers is to seek repentance from all who have sinned against God, the young people and themselves.

  40. horse April 14, 2014 Reply

    "When this first came up in the institute in the 1980's he should have been asked to step down."

    He was asked to step down. Why it didn't stick is a matter of understanding the very complicated maneuvering BG engaged in in order to regain his position. If you haven't read them all yet, I'd recommend reading the series of articles under "The Gothard Files" "The 1980s Scandal."

  41. […] in the assault. The most obvious way they would be at fault is if they defrauded their attacker. Defraud is Gothard’s favorite word for any dress, actions, or manners that cause someone to lust. This […]

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