Doug Wilson’s Defense of Child Molester Steven Sitler

Steven Sitler, image via public records; Doug Wilson, CC image courtesy of Flickr, speric.

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Julie Anne Smith’s blog Spiritual Sounding Board. It was originally published on September 4, 2014 and has been slightly modified for HA.

I read a disturbing article yesterday that sent me reeling. I think we always want to hope for the best in people, but after having seen this pattern taken place so many times, those who were familiar with the story could see the inevitable train wreck before it took place. Our fears were in fact confirmed this week, and I am heartbroken.

Many times when we hear of breaking scandalous stories, the focus is on the perpetrator and those who enabled the abuse. The background to this story can be broken down into several important topics, and I hope other bloggers will cover some of the other aspects to this story. But for this initial post, the victims will be the primary focus, as they should be. They are the ones we need to protect and defend.

Background Information

In Fall of 2003, Steven Sitler moved from Moscow, Idaho to attend New Saint Andrews College (NSA). Sitler attended Christ Church, pastored by Doug Wilson. When he came to Moscow, ”No one knew at the time, however, that Steven Sitler was also a serial [child molester] who preyed upon boys and girls, ages 2–12, and who left a trail of victims in at least two other states prior to his arrival in Moscow” (Source).

In March of 2005, the parents of one victimized child notified Doug Wilson, who advised them to retain the Christ Church’s attorney to accompany them as they notified legal authorities of the crime. This marks the beginning of Sitler’s legal issues.

About this time, Doug Wilson began counseling with Steven Sitler. To make a very long story short, Sitler was convicted, served time, took a plea deal, and will have supervised parole for the rest of his life.

A note of interest is the letter that Doug Wilson sent to the judge essentially defending Sitler and asking for leniency. Yes, you read that correctly – leniency for a serial child molester! Doug Wilson told the Judge Stegner he had been providing counseling to Steven Sitler for only SIX times, gave him some books to read, and assignments to do between sessions. He stated that at the beginning of their counseling sessions, Sitler didn’t know the nature of his problem, but was later convinced that Sitler was open and honest when he confessed his thought life and behavior.  The final paragraph of Wilson’s letter reads:

I am grateful Steven was caught, and am grateful he has been brought to account for these actions so early in his life. . . . At the same time, I would urge that the civil penalties applied would be measured and limited. I have good hope that Steve has genuinely repented, and that he will continue to deal with this to become a productive and contributing member of society.

Ed Iverson and Doug Wilson Encourage Courtship and Marriage of Steven Sitler

Fast forward a few years and time served, and now a young lady is on the scene. Let me introduce you to Katie Travis. Katie had posted her personal story online, but it has since been taken down. But it is possible to piece together her story from others who have quoted the words from her online journal.

Katie moved to Idaho to attend New Saint Andrews College from Fallon, Nevada. She lived with the family of Ed Iverson whom she had known several years before arriving at NSA. Mr. Iverson was NSA’s librarian and also an elder at Doug Wilson’s church, Christ Church.  Reports are conflicting as to their relationship, whether he was her grandfather by blood or acted as a father figure, but it is clear that she looked to him as a respected father figure, and he readily assumed that trusted role in her personal life.

At the age of 23, Katie was at the prime of life, single, and ready to find a husband and start a family like all young ladies who are brought up in Patriarchy. In Christian Patriarchy circles, women are encouraged to marry young, so 23 years was pushing it. Several reports indicated that Katie felt the pressure to find a husband in short order because most of her friends were courting or married. She asked Mr. Iverson to assist her in finding a spouse, and he eagerly agreed.

Are you picking up on this culture? Katie asked a family friend to find someone to court. He was to choose for her, not the other way around. And this was normal and what Katie wanted.

On August 18, 2010, Mr. and Mrs. Iverson invited Steven Sitler to come to their home for dinner. This dinner was set up for the express purpose of introducing Steven and Katie for the possibility of a future courtship. “Ed Iverson’s description of Katie was that, though NSA was tough for her, she persevered through and she was, “pretty good looking, too” (Source).

While Doug Wilson and Ed Iverson were obviously fine with this possible courtship and marriage, it’s important to note that the Department of Corrections did not support the idea of marriage for Steven Sitler at all.

Steven posted his account of their joyous meeting on the internet:

“We met on August 18th, 2010 at the insistence of Mr. and Mrs. Iverson. One week later we were writing emails like it was going out of style. On Katie’s first visit back to Moscow in October, we had our first date, after which I asked her father if I could start courting her. I got the pleasure of spending Christmas break with Katie’s awesome family and decided on a whim to ask her to “merry” (misspelling intentional, more on that later) me on our second date. Of course it wasn’t really a whim, I had been meticulously planning it for months. She was shocked… and speechless, but finally she said yes, and the rest, as they say, is history. I love you., Katie” (The Real Doug Wilson Encouraged & Presided Over the Marriage of a Serial Pedophile).

Katie and Steven wed on June 11, 2011.

The website originally hosted a video of Wilson officiating Sitler's wedding before the video's owner requested it removed.
The website originally hosted a video of Wilson officiating Sitler’s wedding before the video’s owner requested it removed.

Breaking News for the Sitler Case

Yesterday, reported (my bolding):

“A Latah County 2nd District Court judge ordered Tuesday that a convicted sex offender, Steven Sitler, must continue to have an approved chaperone present, within his direct line of sight, at all times he is around his infant child in the wake of new disclosures of “contact resulting in actual sexual stimulation.”

This was the train wreck we feared. The article stated that Katie was now disqualified as a chaperone “for failure to report disclosures related directly to the couple’s son and Sitler was required to move out of their home” (Source).

Ok, this is just sad for all involved.  I have a lot to say about Doug Wilson but I’m biting my tongue for the moment. What I’d like to discuss is Katie.

Katie’s World as Wife and Mom

Katie and her infant son are victims of her husband’s criminal behavior. Imagine Katie being in a town away from parents and her own pastor and trusted father figure selected a serial child molester for a husband. They had to convince her that Steven had repented. Who was she to second guess Mr. Iverson and Pastor Wilson?  They wouldn’t do anything to harm her, right?

In these circles, Katie would be expected to serve and submit to her husband and bear his children. But how does that work when the State says he can’t be around children? Doug Wilson knew this before he married them. Professionals warned that marriage was not a wise idea, but the State had no laws to prevent it from happening.

The article states that “the Idaho Department of Corrections would try to remove his wife and parents as chaperones.” This suggests to me that Katie and parents were not responsible in guarding the baby. Do you see this never-ending conflict? Katie of course wants her husband to have a relationship with his son, but yet she also has to police him? How does this work in a home where she is to obey her husband as head of the home? What an awkward position to put grandparents in, watching Steven like a hawk. There is no relaxing in this home, there is always a threat if Steven is in the premises.Life Sentence

When Ed Iverson and Katie’s parents agreed to the courtship of Katie and Steven, and then Doug Wilson agreed to officiate in this fiasco of a wedding, they pronounced a life sentence on Katie and her child, and extended family.  She will never be able to live as a normal wife and mother. This infant has already been sexually violated. Imagine the emotional stress in the home, always looking, trying to be vigilant, yet also trying to find a sense normal. There is no good thing in this situation, and Doug Wilson as pastor failed this young woman and her child. This is shameful behavior for a pastor who is supposed to be shepherding and protecting. What kind of shepherd intentionally puts sheep in harm’s way?  One who is arrogant to think he can determine whether a serial child molester is repentant or not.

The actions by Doug Wilson, I believe, also constitute as spiritual abuse. Katie put her trust in her spiritual leader to guide her and protect her. He asked for leniency for Steven – that is not protecting her. Wilson married them. That was also not protecting her. How might this affect how she trusts spiritual authority? If her pastor told her this, will she be upset at God for allowing it to happen? There are so ways this could lead to a real crisis of faith. I pray it doesn’t.

I sure hope Doug Wilson apologizes to this family for the harm he has caused them. What a disgrace not only to this family, but to the world as they once again see how Christian leaders mess up so badly.

Josh Duggar’s Treatment Center’s Troubling Connections to Child, Sexual Abuse Cover-Ups

Image of convicted child molestor Jack Schaap, whose sermons Reformers Unanimous recommends to its students (including Josh Duggar).

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on August 20, 2015.

Earlier this week Josh Duggar checked into Reformers Unanimous (RU), a Christian residential addiction treatment program in Rockford, Illinois, run by North Love Baptist Church and co-founded by the church’s authoritarian Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor, Paul Kingsbury. Over the past twenty-four-hours, I have spoken with a number of individuals involved with or affected by either North Love or Kingsbury. Of primary importance are allegations that Kingsbury is actively supporting an accused sex offender, Richard DeVall, who is serving as a missionary in Bolivia and is sponsored by North Love Baptist Church. If true, this would seem to disqualify Kingsbury from running a recovery program for individuals suffering from porn addiction and sex addiction*, but Independent Fundamentalist Baptist churches seem to run by their own rules.

There are some striking similarities here. After Josh Duggar molested his younger sisters as a teenager, he was sent to one of Bill Gothard’s training centers to take part in a construction program while receiving Christian mentoring. A decade later, Bill Gothard resigned after several dozen women leveled accusations of sexual abuse against him. This time Josh has been sent to Reformers Unanimous, a program founded by a church that has a history of involvement in Gothard’s Institute for Basic Life Principles and which focuses on physical labor and Bible study. Paul Kingsbury, co-founder and chair of Reformers Unanimous, is alleged to be providing financial support through his church to an accused sex offender who has refused to return to the country to face charges. In other words, the Duggars appear to have sent Josh for round two of the same failed treatment.

In this article, I will lay out the case against Kingsbury in four sections. First I will examine Kingsbury’s relationship with Jack Schaap, who was convicted in 2013 of violating the Mann Act by transporting a minor across state lines for sex. Next I will look at Kingsbury’s alleged role in preventing accused sex offender Richard DeVall from coming to justice. Third, I will examine Kingsbury’s alleged history of failing to notify parishioners and others when a known sex offender is in their midst. Finally, I will look at the strict authoritarian manner in which Kingsbury allegedly runs North Love Baptist Church. I will finish by turning back to the Duggars and tying together some of the overarching themes running through this story.

Kingsbury’s Relationship with Convicted Abuser Jack Schaap

According to his bio on the North Love website, Kingsbury “surrendered to serve Christ with his life under the preaching ministry of Dr. Jack Hyles of Hammond, Indiana” and went on to graduate from Hyles-Anderson College. Jack Hyles spent the last decade of his life embroiled in controversy over a child sexual abuse coverup in his church. His son-in-law, Jack Schaap, who succeeded him as pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond after his death in 2001, is currently serving a twelve year prison sentence for violating the Mann Act in connection with a sexual relationship with 16- and 17-year-old parishioner. During the trial, it came to light that Schaap had groomed the minor during counseling sessions and had sex with her in his office.

Kingsbury’s relationship with First Baptist Church of Hamnond and Hyles-Anderson is longstanding. Dan Parsons, who attended a Christian school run by North Love in the late 1970s and taught at the same school in the late 1980s, told me that students from the school were taken annually to youth conferences at Hyles-Anderson. Indeed, Kingsbury appears to maintain a relationship with First Baptist Church of Hammond and Hyles-Anderson to this day—he spoke at a Bible conference at First Baptist Church of Hammond only months after Schaap was sentenced.

Further, First Baptist Church of Hammond operates a chapter of Reformers Unanimous. This program was first brought to the church by now-imprisoned Jack Schaap. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that a sermon by Jack Schaap remains on a list of sermons Reformers Unanimous “recommends heartily” to RU students. According to Chicago magazine, Schaap was “part of what some call a deeply embedded culture of misogyny and sexual and physical abuse.” I was unable to find Kingsbury’s response to Schaap’s conviction, but I did find comments by one of his parishioners condemning those who would condemn Schaap and invoking Kingsbury as her authority for doing so. Kingsbury’s relationship with Schaap—and Schaap’s relationship with Reformer’s Unanimous—raises concerning questions about the culture of Reformers Unanimous.

Kingsbury’s Alleged Support for an Accused Sex Offender

Several years ago, Bob Jones University invited GRACE, an organization run by Billy Graham’s grandson and Liberty University professor Boz Tchividijian, to conduct an investigation of their handling of rape and sexual assault on campus. The final report released by GRACE detailed a situation in the early 1990s where BJU expelled and then readmitted a man accused of sexual assault. According to the GRACE report, “the alleged perpetrator minimized the extent of his crime, but he admitted to touching her inappropriately without her consent while he believed she was sleeping.” The perpetrator was readmitted to BJU after claiming that he had reconciled with his victim, but this was later revealed to be a lie.

This man, identified as Richard DeVall, is currently serving as a missionary in Bolivia. According to the GRACE report, his victim finally went to the authorities in 2012. Shortly after this she received a letter of apology from DeVall. Not satisfied, she contacted DuVall’s missionary agency, Baptist Pioneer Mission (BPM), asking them to remove him from the field “due to potential risks he could pose to others.” They refused, telling her that DeVall “had been repentant to the mission board by confessing his offense and writing a letter of apology.” When she asked whether BPM would encourage DeVall to return to the United States to face charges for his crime, the board responded that they would “use any legal means to protect” DeVall. In spite of claiming in his apology letter that he would “cooperate and work with all those who are involved in the issue,” DeVall insisted that the matter must be handled “in a Biblical way” and, according to GRACE, has refused to return to the United States to face criminal charges.

BMP’s listing of policies and procedures states that “To be eligible for appointment with BPM, the missionary applicant must be a member of and commissioned by his or her New Testament church.” According to my sources, North Love Baptist Church is DeVall’s sending church. Kingsbury, as pastor of North Love, promoted DeVall’s mission work on his blog in February 2012. The month before, in January 2012, DeVall gave a sermon at North Love. BJUGrace, a Facebook group dedicated to seeking “grace and truth, righteousness and peace in the abuse allegations at Bob Jones University,” recently posted regarding the connections between Kingsbury and DeVall as well. According to BPM’s website, “BPM will only serve individuals who are recognized and commissioned by their local church to engage in missionary work (church planting).” While BPM is DeVall’s sending agency, North Love plays a crucial role as his sending church, and as senior pastor, much of the responsibility for this falls on Kingsbury.

One would think that accusations of sexual assault leveled against a missionary would lead a church to have second thoughts about sending them into the field, but it appears that this has not occurred in DeVall’s case in spite of the fact that both my sources and BJUGrace allege that Kingsbury was notified some time ago of the details of DeVall’s crime. Kingsbury may believe DeVall has repented of his past sin and reformed his ways. This would be in keeping with IFB theology and Gothard’s teachings, but it flies in the face of DeVall’s unwillingness to return to the U.S. where he faces the possibility of criminal charges. If it is true that North Love is continuing to sponsor DeVall even with Kingsbury’s knowledge of the allegations against him, and that they have sent him into the field and are keeping him there out of fear that he will face criminal charges if he returns to the U.S., these are serious charges indeed. What impact might such unwillingness to take sexual abuse seriously and such inattention to systems of accountability have on the culture and teachings of Reformers Unanimous?

Kingsbury’s Alleged Failure To Warn Parishioners against Sex Offenders

Working alongside Kingsbury, Pastor Ray Borah served as the Academic Dean of North Love Baptist Collegepastor at North Love Baptist Church, and counselor at Reformers Unanimous. Before coming to North Love, Borah was employed as a youth pastor at a church in Florida. While serving as youth pastor, Borah, who had been married for well over a decade, allegedly sexually assaulted a teenage girl and became sexually involved with two other teenagers in his youth group. It is not clear whether Kingsbury knew of these allegations when Borah joined North Love, though the recent GRACE investigation revealed that the allegations had been reported to Bob Jones University some time before Borah joined Kingsbury’s pastoral staff, but were not investigated.

About three years ago, Borah committed another sexual offense, this one at North Love itself. What happened is unclear and has been subject to much rumor. While there is little definitive information, we do know that at this time Borah parted ways with North Love. According to sources I have spoken with, neither Kingsbury nor anyone else at North Love warned either parishioners or others who came in contact with Borah after he left North Love about Borah’s offense. This put additional individuals at risk.

This is not the first time Kingsbury has been involved in a failure to notify parishioners or other relevant parties that they have a sex offender in their midst. According to Parsons, in the late 1970s, when Kingsbury was a youth pastor at North Love, the English teacher and basketball coach at the school attached to the church was “caught peeping into the girls’ locker room.” The man was forced to confess, but the confession was kept extremely vague—”I got away from the Lord”—and no one was notified what he had done. “That was all hush hush,” Parsons told me. “Nobody who knew was permitted to talk about it.” This man was let go from the school, but was not blacklisted in any fashion. As a result, he simply traveled to another state and found a job at a Christian school there.

While Kingsbury was not senior pastor during the situation involving the school’s English teacher and basketball coach, as youth pastor he presumably participated in keeping the matter quiet and learned by example how affairs of this sort should be handled. Indeed, Kingsbury, who became senior pastor in 1982, only a few years after this incident, describes the senior pastor at the time as his “mentor.” In allegedly failing to notify others when they have a sex offender in their midst, Kingsbury has put others at risk and has shown himself to be either unaware of or uncaring about best practices for handling sexual abuse. This does not bode well for the practices of Reformers Unanimous, which Kingsbury co-founded and which continues to operate under his direction as chairman.

“The Authority To Do Whatever He Wanted”

In perhaps the most startling part of our conversation, Parsons described an alternative Halloween activity that Kingsbury put on during the late 1970s as an example of Kingsbury’s abusive and manipulative tactics. As Parsons explained, after the various activities at the alternative Halloween event had drawn to a close, the youth gathered in the gym, expecting to hear a short sermon. Instead, Kingsbury had the church deacons and other leaders enter the room and “stage a mass shooting with guns that shot blanks.” According to Parsons, the men “came in and scared everyone and shot into the crowd” in an effort to “scare all the kids into making a decision to accept Christ.” The experience clearly made a big impression on Parsons. “They’re very big on that fear, that kind of persuasion,” he told me.

Parsons also told me that Kingsbury rules North Love with an iron fist. Speaking of his experience at North Love in the 1970s and 1980s and his discussions with church members in the decades since, Parsons told me that Kingsbury teaches his congregation that the King James Version of the Bible is the only acceptable translation and relies heavily on “The Trail of Blood,” a 1931 pamphlet that purports to reveal that the Baptists are the true heirs of the early church. “That gave him the authority to do whatever he wanted,” Parsons said. “‘If you’re not listening to me, you’re not following the New Testament, period.’” Individual Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches frequently function as their own cults of personality, lacking an authority structure that provides accountability. The senior pastor at an IFB church—a position Kingsbury has held since 1982—often wields a great deal of authority over his parishioners, and in Kingsbury’s case, Parsons told me, that power extended to what church members wore and what Bible edition they used.

Parsons also described North Love as a Gothard church. During the 1970s and 1980s, he told me, teachers at North Love’s Christian school were required to attend Bill Gothard’s seminars annually. These conferences typically took place on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and were held in nearby Chicago. According to Parsons, the school would shut down on Friday so that the teachers could attend. After Gothard introduced his homeschool curriculum in the 1980s, some families took their children out of North Love’s Christian school to enroll them in Gothard’s program, with the support of the church. Kingsbury echoed Gothard’s teachings about women and gender, barring women from wearing pants (the school’s cheerleaders were required to sign a pledge that they wouldn’t wear pants even at home) and preaching against birth control. “Pastor Kingsbury preached from the pulpit that women were baby machines,” Parsons told me. Gothard resigned from his ministry last year as an increasing number of women accused him of sexually molesting them while they were working for him. While Parsons no longer has close friends at North Love, he told me that his friends who have retained the beliefs they were taught at North Love tend to defend Gothard. “They say that he didn’t do anything wrong,” Parsons noted.

Over the past few years, fundamentalist churches have suffered one sex abuse scandal after another. Fundamentalist colleges and missions agencies have taken a hit as wellSpeaking in 2013, Boz Tchividjian shocked many when he stated that evangelicals are “worse” on sexual abuse than Catholics. Tchividjian argued that evangelicals’ individualism makes them wary of transparency and accountability, causing abuse to go unseen, ignored, or unreported. In addition, Tchividjian noted that evangelical pastors and missionaries who are ousted over abuse allegations often simply switch churches or missions agencies, leaving their sordid pasts behind them. Without an overarching hierarchy, a church may never be told of a new pastor or missionary’s past misdeeds. When churches promote strict modesty standards and portray women as temptresses, victim blaming becomes all too common, contributing to the collapse of any attempt at best practices. The cult of personality that frequently develops at IFB churches only exacerbates these problems. When one man holds all the power, that power is easy to abuse.


Kingsbury founded Reformers Unanimous as a ministry of North Love in 1996. Parsons described the early material used by RU as “pretty much just mindless filling in the blanks.” When I asked Parsons whether it would be accurate to say that RU seeks to cure sexual deviance in the church not by addressing the sexual ethics and power structures that so often contribute to it but rather by terming it an addiction and throwing the Bible at it, he laughed and agreed with my analysis. As others have reported already, Reformers Unanimous does not appear to have any licensed counselors on staff, and its residential program appears to be made up entirely of physical labor and Bible study. This is a path Josh Duggar has been down before, but it is the only path his parents seem able to envision. Questioning the beliefs and dynamics that lead to abuse is difficult; solving problems with a larger dose of Bible reading is the familiar default.

The Duggars have made a career out of bottling up their children’s sexual energies, keeping them set on zero until marriage and then unleashing them, but most of what they teach is common in fundamentalist churches. Women are expected to dress modestly so as not to give men the wrong idea, and sexual assault victims are asked what they did to lead their abuser on or cause their assault. When married men have affairs, their wives are blamed for not being sexually available enough to keep them at home. On top of all of this, wives are expected to submit to and obey their husbands (and children are expected to submit to and obey their parents). When taken together, these teachings can be a recipe for disaster. And there’s more, too. Once a man confesses and repents of his sexual offense, his victim must either forgive him or face charges of bitterness. A parent who is loathe to leave her children alone with a man who has molested children in the past may be accused of not believing in God’s capacity to change lives. None of this is conducive to a healthy sexual ethic, healing for abuse survivors, or safety for the community at large.

As of this week, Josh is at Reformers Unanimous, whose chairman and cofounder, Paul Kingsbury, had a longterm working relationship with convicted sexual predator Jack Schaap, is allegedly protecting an accused sex offender from justice, and allegedly has a habit of failing to notify people when a known sexual predator is in their midst. How an individual alleged to have such a troubled relationship with both legal accountability for sex offenses and established best practices for handling cases of sexual abuse can be expected to run an affective and above-board rehab program for individuals who come to him seeking help for addictions to porn or sex is perhaps question of the week.

* There is some disagreement over what porn addiction and sex addiction look like and whether they are properly labeled addictions. However, regardless of where one falls on the question, Reformers Unanimous is out of step with professional opinion in how it understands and approaches both conditions. This is transparently obvious in the simple fact that the RU website states that 50% of Christian men are addicted to pornography. RU appears to see “looks at pornography” as synonymous with “addicted to pornography,” which also calls into question the program’s ability to treat those individuals it admits.

Josh Duggar Checks Into Treatment Center After Porn Star Details “Very Traumatic” and “Terrifying” Sexual Encounter

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Increasingly disturbing revelations continue to surface in the tragic circumstances surrounding the Duggars, the former TLC celebrity family of “19 Kids and Counting.”

This last May it came to light that Josh Duggar, the oldest son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and the now-disgraced former executive of the Family Research Council’s legislative action arm, had molested five children when he was a teenager, including members of his own family. Other celebrities from the Religious Right immediately stepped up to defend Josh and minimize the horrors of child molestation, including: Rick Boyer, board member of the Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV); Matt Walsh, viral blogger and popular homeschool speaker at the Great Homeschool Conventions; Mike Huckabee, Republican Presidential hopeful endorsed by HSLDA’s Michael Farris; Ray Comfort, a popular New Zealand Christian evangelist; and Kevin Swanson, director of Generations with Vision and former executive director of the Christian Home Educators of Colorado.

Then a week ago, Gawker broke the story that Josh had paid almost $1,000 for a “guaranteed” affair via the adultery-promoting website Ashley Madison. This led Josh to publicly confess to cheating on his wife, though in his statement he appeared to blame a “pornography addiction” for leading him to that point. Josh said,

I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife.


Ironically, it was then adultery — rather than the far more chilling and actual crime of molesting children — that led several of Josh’s previous defenders to finally realize the absolute seriousness of Josh’s situation. Rick Boyer said in a public Facebook post that he “was wrong” that Josh was currently living “an exemplary life.” However, Boyer also qualified that by saying he “was right in all that” regarding child molestation, namely, that Josh’s “poor sisters had been abused far more by the buzzard-like media than they ever were by Josh” (image archived here).  Similarly, Matt Walsh said in a public Facebook post that he “was wrong about the Duggar situation” (image archived here). But unlike Boyer, who had the gall to say the media “abused” molested children more than their actual molester, Walsh realized what we homeschool alumni have been saying all along: that the Duggars should never have paraded around their family on TV right after their son molested five children, including siblings. Walsh said,

The more I think about this, I realized I was too easy on the the Duggar parents as well. Jim Bob and Michelle knew that their oldest son was struggling with severe sexual sin, they knew their daughters had been abused, they knew their family was in the midst of moral and spiritual turmoil, yet they STILL decided to put themselves and their children on TV for ten years.

Of course, back in May, Walsh just dismissed people saying this very thing in the flippant way he always treats people with different opinions than his own.

After Josh’s Ashley Madison account became public, secret profiles of Josh’s on Facebook and OKCupid also surfaced. These profiles revealed his private online relationships with strippers and porn stars, including a relatively new porn star named Danica Dillon.

Today Danica revealed the full extent of her relationship with Josh — namely, that while Josh’s wife Anna was pregnant with their fourth child, Josh allegedly forced Danica into having “very traumatic” and “terrifying” rough sex without the use of protection. Though Danica is taking pains to claim the sex was “consensual,” the fact that Josh exchanged money for sex that Danica clearly was not comfortable with — considering both her fear of his use of force as well as his unwillingness to use protection — indicates very clearly full and enthusiastic consent wasn’t important to Josh. Danica says that Josh was “basically tossing me around like I was a rag doll.”

Furthermore, Josh’s unwillingness to use protection clearly puts not only himself and Danica in danger of sexually transmitted diseases, but also Josh’s wife Anna – who was completely oblivious to Josh’s extraordinarily risky and abusive sexual actions.

My heart continues to break for Anna and I really hope she can receive help if she wants it.

Anna was raised in a conservative Christian homeschooling environment that promoted sexual purity until marriage at all costs. Purity was guaranteed as the sure-fire way to stay safe from romantic heartbreak and sexual diseases. Yet now Anna has to deal with the potential devastation of those very things despite following the purity script. At this point we have no idea how many sex workers Josh forced into having unprotected sex with him and thus potentially exposed Anna to any resulting diseases.

This is yet another tragic example of why we need to rethink how homeschooling parents teach their child about “purity”: Sexuality and sexual health are far more complicated than the white picket fence and white wedding dress fantasies of purity culture. When two young people engage in betrothal or courtship and hardly get the opportunity to have personal, private, one-on-one conversations with each other, they have no idea if their spouse, for example, experienced sexual abuse as a child. So even if your spouse never engaged in willing, premarital sex, you don’t know if your spouse is STD-free. That’s something couples need to talk about, even couples who grew up “pure.” And if your spouse cheats on you like Josh did, he might not think about the importance of protection, and thereby place you at risk for STDs — without you even knowing about it. This is why realism in sex and relationship education is desperately important — and potentially life-saving.

In the wake of Danica Dillon’s allegations, Michelle Duggar today wrote on her blog that, “Yesterday Josh checked himself into a long-term treatment center.” An image of her full statement follows:

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Text is:

We are so thankful for the outpouring of love, care and prayers for our family during this most difficult situation with Josh. As parents we are so deeply grieved by our son’s decisions and actions. His wrong choices have deeply hurt his precious wife and children and have negatively affected so many others. He has also brought great insult to the values and faith we hold dear. Yesterday Josh checked himself into a long-term treatment center. For him it will be a long journey toward wholeness and recovery. We pray that in this he comes to complete repentance and sincere change. In the meantime, we will be offering our love, care and devoted support to Anna and our grandchildren as she also receives counsel and help for her own heart and future. During this time we continue to look to God—He is our rock and comfort. We ask for your continued prayers for our entire family.

When it became public several months ago that Josh had molested five children, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar originally claimed that they had sent him to a “faith-based” treatment center run by Bill Gothard, whose sexual abuse counseling material blames victims for their own abuse and discourages wives from leaving husbands who molest their children. Similarly, it is rumored that Josh has again been sent to a “faith-based” treatment center, this time Reformers Unanimous (RU). RU, which offers treatment for pornography addiction and sex addiction, is run by Paul Kingsbury. Kingsbury has zero academic credentials in counseling, medicine, or therapy. Though he calls himself a “Doctor” due to two honorary degrees, his highest actual level of education is a Bachelor of Arts from Hyles-Anderson College, an unaccredited Independent Fundamentalist Baptist college. Kingsbury was mentored in his career by Dr. Jack Hyles, who infamously defended child molestors in the church he founded, First Baptist Church of Hammond.

However, as of the time of publication, the Duggar family has yet to officially confirm where Josh checked himself into.

What You Need to Know about the Josh Duggar Police Report

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on May 21, 2015.

When I first saw rumors circulating yesterday I didn’t pay any attention, because the accusations were vague and felt rehashed. Remember when the tabloids reported that Jessa Duggar had sex at the church immediately after her wedding, based on a word of an obviously satirical blogger who claimed to have been there? Yeah, I remember that too. There have been rumors circulating for years about Jim Bob blaming Josh for the loss of a political campaign, based on “sin in the camp,” so I thought it was probably just those rumors being rehashed in the way tabloids do.

But now there’s a police report. And now People Magazine has posted Josh’s confession. And now Josh has resigned from Family Research Council.

What happened exactly? Answering this question is sensitive because of the need to protect the identity Josh’s victims. According to TMZ, one of Josh’s victims has asked to have the unredacted police documents destroyed to protect her identity—and even the redacted police report gives more than enough information to guess at the victims’ identities. This is a problem.

I’ve gone back and forth about whether I should blog about this. This is not a gossip blog. I blog about weighty issues, and when I do blog about scandals like this I try to do so in a way that makes larger points, rather than just scoring cheap shots. That said, I’ve decided to go ahead and blog about this for several reasons. For one thing, I want you to have a reliable place to get good information (there’s still incorrect information circling out there). For another thing, I do think there are larger points to be made here. I’ll start by summarizing the police report.

See more at Libby Anne’s blog: Love, Joy, Feminism

How Purity Culture Kept Me Silent About My Sexual Abuse as a Child: Dinah’s Story

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HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Dinah” is a pseudonym.

Trigger warning: discussion of child sexual abuse.

I’m going to be honest—growing up in the Christian homeschooling world is hard.

People in the community that I grew up in were picture perfect families, with all their perfect children all in a perfect row, making perfect grades, milling their own wheat and making their own bread.  They were highly esteemed Christians who (of course) have a home church and serve their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. These people sound like they’d be lovely to be around, however, that was not the vibe I got at all. There is a heavy feeling that comes with being around those families—judgment:

You don’t mill your own wheat? Shame on you! Don’t you know store bought bread has chemicals? You don’t pastor your own church? Shame on you! Don’t you know about all the horrible mistakes large churches make? You don’t use the same curriculum as me? Shame on you! Don’t you know that you’re going to be dumb? 

Every homeschooler I talk to tends to make me feel self conscious and guilty for not being the same as them. But there’s one thing that I can not stand. You don’t have a purity ring? Shame on you! Don’t you know that you are dirty if you even think of having sex or kissing before your wedding day?!

You. Are. Dirty.

This is the message I got every single time I listened to anyone who spoke on purity. That’s what I was being told every time I went to a “purity seminar” or read a book on purity. People were going around telling girls that “God doesn’t want you having sex before you’re married. It’s a horrible sin, and if you do it, you won’t be pure anymore. You won’t have a gift to give your husband on your wedding. You’ll be used goods.”

I didn’t want people to think I was dirty—so that’s why I didn’t speak about my sexual abuse for 7 years after it stopped.

I didn’t tell anyone. I put on a façade. I am a quick learner, and always have been. I learned all the answers. I knew all the Christian responses to many situations, I knew what purity was and what was required of girls who wore a purity ring. So that’s what I fed anyone who wanted to talk. I put on this mask. I pretended that I had never had a sexual encounter, that I was oblivious to sexual desires, that I would never kiss a boy until my wedding day. Every time I lied, or just fed people answers, I was digging a deeper, and deeper hole for myself. That hole is what became a dark depression.

Every girl struggles during puberty. It’s exciting, but often times it’s hard to accept your new curves and all the changes that are taking place. You notice that boys look at you differently. You hear about purity, and how you should dress modestly so that men and boys don’t think about you in a sexual way. That’s what made puberty a living hell for me—a living hell that I could tell no one about.

“You must dress modestly so boys don’t think sexual things about you” translated to “Your new body is going to attract more men and boys, and if you mess up or dress wrong they’re just waiting to rape you.” There’s no way in hell that I wanted to attract anyone. I didn’t want these curves. I didn’t want to look like a woman. I didn’t want to enter this world of boys and sex and marriage because of what I had experienced for 5 years. When I was 4 years old a family member molested me and sexually abused me– forcing me to do things, and forcing himself on me. This went on until I was 9 years old.

By the time the abuse had ended, I knew much more than any 9 year old should know about sex. I knew so much, but I also knew that if I told anyone, I’d be in a lot of trouble. My abuser made me believe that what he was doing was okay, but if I told anyone he would hurt me. Because I was only 4, he was able to scare me so badly that I didn’t realize that what he was doing was wrong. I listened to him and kept quiet.

Well, when puberty hit me when I was 11, I was introduced to the concept of purity. This scared me because I knew that I had already had sex, and already kissed, and already did everything that I was being told not to do. That’s when the depression set in. I was so depressed that I became suicidal, started cutting and started struggling with an eating disorder. I didn’t want to be attractive. I didn’t want attention from boys. I was afraid that my abuse was going to happen all over again. I didn’t want anyone to find out about my abuse.  I just wanted to get away from this guilt and shame. This feeling that I was used goods, and that I’d never find a man who will love me.  I wanted to die because that was the only way to escape the pain.

Never ever make purity such a priority that it makes a girl want to commit suicide.

Looking back, I know that if someone had said that sex is a wonderful thing that is supposed to be enjoyed, I would have told someone about my sexual abuse a lot sooner. If I knew that sex was good, I would have known that what was happening to me was wrong. It was not good, it was not enjoyable. Because people were telling me that sex wasn’t good, that I would be dirty if I had sex, I didn’t tell anyone because I was full of shame. I didn’t want to be the girl with a scarlet letter. I didn’t want to be dirty. So I didn’t tell.

I’m still coming to terms with my abuse. I still struggle. But I no longer hold myself to the standard of purity. I’m not going to wear a purity ring, because that doesn’t mean anything to me. I am going to obey my heavenly Father and I’m going to honor Him with my body. That’s really all that matters.

I want people in Christian homeschool circles to talk about sex in a positive way. I want parents telling their kids that sex is amazing and enjoyable, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility. I want people to stop shaming girl’s bodies, or boy’s sexual desires. I want people to be careful about what they talk about when they talk about purity. Talk about sex in a way that is positive, because if someone is being abused they’ll know that something is wrong with what is being done to them! Never ever tell someone that they’re dirty. Never encourage the shame that is already abundant.

I’m not “pure” by society’s standards, but I’m pure by God’s standards. That’s all that matters.

The Old Schoolhouse Says Child Molestation Allegations “Are False,” Insinuates Possibility of Legal Retaliation

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Last week we reported that Paul and Gena Suarez, owners of the “global homeschooling company” The Old Schoolhouse, have been accused by a former key employee of (1) allegedly protecting several known child predators and (2) shaming and silencing members of their community who tried to stand up and do the right thing. Yesterday Hännah Ettinger covered the story on Patheos as well: “Publishers of Christian Homeschooling Magazine Exposed for Protecting Child Abuser.” It has also been claimed that David Gibbs III — who is involved in the mediation process between the abuser’s family and the victim’s family — allegedly told the victim’s mother to “keep silent” about her son being molested. (Note that David Gibbs III also happens to be a columnist for the Old Schoolhouse and a part-owner and sponsor of the Great Homeschool Conventions.)

When people began asking about the allegations last week (on June 24) on The Old Schoolhouse’s (TOS) Facebook page, TOS responded simply by deleting their comments and ignoring and blocking their questions. It was not until three days later, on June 27, that TOS actually engaged their customers’ concerns, seen in this solitary thread on TOS’s Facebook page. (Should the thread get deleted in the future, it is archived as a PDF here.) An individual asked TOS the following:

Can we expect some response from TOS addressing the serious accusations that have been leveled at its owners this week? I have long endorsed this magazine to the more than 100 families in my homeschool group and as the group leader, I feel some responsibility to retract that endorsement if TOS isn’t going to deal with this issue honestly and publicly.

TOS did not answer the question publicly. Rather, their customer service representative said, “Please email me at” Another individual asked for an answer as well; that individual was also asked to email TOS privately.

To date the Old Schoolhouse has yet to make any public statement about the serious allegations of abuse and misconduct by owners Paul and Gena Suarez and their son.

However, Homeschoolers Anonymous has obtained a copy of the Old Schoolhouse’s official, but not public, response that is being sent privately to those inquiring about the allegations. Below is both a screenshot of the email they are sending people as well as the text:


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Thank you for emailing us privately with your question. A more public response is not possible due to the agreement with the other party and ethics which state that when minors are involved broad publicity is not encouraged.

TOS and the Suarez family are aware of the allegations circulating online. They are false. Please be patient as we are in the midst of proceedings with legal and other advisors concerning false accusations, defamation, libel, and slander.  We trust that the Lord will expose it all in His time, and we feel hopeful that people who love Him will believe the best before assuming that something spread around the Internet is automatically true.

That’s all we can share at this time. Thank you for checking with us in the spirit of Proverbs 18:17and Proverbs 18:13.

This, then, is the Old Schoolhouse’s official company position on the allegations: that “they are false” and nothing more than “something spread around the Internet.” TOS also seems to insinuate the possibility of legal action by speaking of “legal and other advisors concerning false accusations, defamation, libel, and slander.”

One thing is true: truth shall be exposed in due time. And I do not advise placing any bets on the side of the Old Schoolhouse.

Paul and Gena Suarez, Old Schoolhouse Publishers, Accused of Protecting Known Child Predators

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Paul and Gena Suarez, owners of the “global homeschooling company” The Old Schoolhouse, have been accused by a former key employee of allegedly protecting several known child predators. Furthermore, they are accused of shaming and silencing members of their community who tried to stand up and do the right thing.

About the Suarezes and The Old Schoolhouse

Paul and Gena Suarez are the publishers of The Old Schoolhouse (TOS), a Christian homeschool magazine and self-described “global homeschooling company.” TOS has been called “one of the largest homeschooling magazines in America, and indeed, the world.” TOS’s vision is “to continue to lift up the Lord in every endeavor, every action, and every word spoken or written,” and that “as homeschooling grows, so TOS grows, and concurrently, that as TOS grows, more families will be introduced to home education through our many and varied resources.”

Paul and Gena Suarez. Source:
Paul and Gena Suarez. Source:

Begun in 2001, TOS has become immensely popular in the Christian Homeschool Movement. Their Facebook page has nearly 100,000 likes. Dr. James Dobson has endorsed and partnered with TOS, being “pleased to come alongside The Old Schoolhouse, an exemplary organization and magazine, in serving families that care so deeply for the nurturing and development of their kids.” In 2006 Doug Phillips was reported to say “that he really loved reading TOS, and that he didn’t read many homeschool magazines but The Old Schoolhouse Magazine was one that he did definitely read.” NHERI/HSLDA’s Dr. Brian Ray is one of their regular columnists.

TOS also has a Speakers Bureau, which “seeks to identify and introduce to the homeschool community speakers whose knowledge, experience, Christian faith, values, personality, commitments, and central message represent and promote the homeschool movement from a Biblical worldview and family-first perspective.” Their bureau includes popular homeschool speakers such as Heidi St. John, Skeet Savage, Israel Wayne, Jay Wile, and Hal Young. (In fact, Heidi St. John — who recently wrote an article about abuse in homeschooling communities entitled “Don’t Turn Away: Trouble in the Homeschool Movement” — appears to be family friends with the Suarezes, per this Instagram photo of their families together that St. John tweeted last January.)

TOS has actively promoted the works of R.J. Rushdoony, Kevin Swanson, and Vision Forum. Most disturbingly, TOS has a long history of adoration for and promotion of Michael and Debi Pearl and the “ministry” (read: child abuse advocacy) of No Greater Joy. Proverbs 22:6 (and also the title of the Pearls’ most well-known book) — “Train up a child…” — features prominently on the TOS website. In 2005 TOS’s devotional editor Deborah Wuehler interviewed a member of the Pearl family for TOS, in which she wrote the Pearls were “the pioneers of homeschooling in the early 1970s” who “helped countless numbers of parents with their child training questions.” A year later the Suarezes “team[ed] up” with Michael and Debi Pearl in 2006 for a Christian homeschool conference in Germany. TOS even went so far as to give away free copies of the Pearls’ book To Train Up a Child in their “welcome packages” to new homeschoolers. This, as well as other acts of promotion of the Pearls, led to a boycott of TOS in 2006 by gentle parenting bloggers.

TOS is currently both a sponsor of the Great Homeschool Conventions and an HSLDA-suggested resource promoted to HSLDA members at a special discounted rate.

Enter Jenefer Igarashi

Jenefer Igarashi is a “veteran homeschooling mother of six” with 20 years of homeschooling experience. She is a former employee of TOS.

Jenefer Igarashi. Source:
Jenefer Igarashi. Source: Pinterest.

For 6 years Igarashi worked for TOS in a number of capacities, including (in 2002) as the Senior Editor of TOS and (in 2006) as the Vice President of Operations. She’s been in the thick of the Christian Homeschool Movement, writing enthusiastically in 2006 about her opportunities for TOS to interview both HSLDA’s Chris Klicka and Vision Forum’s Doug Phillips. She was a frequent speaker and exhibitor at homeschool conventions on the topic of Rosetta Stone curriculum, including Teaching Them Diligently conferencesMinnesota Association of Christian Home Educators (MACHE) conferences, and the Illinois Christian Home Educators (ICHE) conference. Igarashi is also a contributing writer for the Christian website

In their 2006 book Homeschooling Methods: Seasoned Advice on Learning Styles, self-described as “a homeschool convention in a book,” Paul and Gena Suarez include — among essays by popular homeschool leaders such as Doug Wilson and Raymond Moore — an essay co-written by Igarashi. As 2006 they described her as “vice president of operations for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.” The Suarezes also refer to Igarashi as one of several “personal friends who have given of themselves and blessed us abundantly with encouragement, love, and undying support.”

In 2007, however, Igarashi departed from TOS. In the Summer 2007 edition of TOS, Paul and Gena Suarez wrote the following (you can view a PDF archived on HA here):

The Old Schoolhouse – Summer 2007

With a heavy heart we announce that Jenefer Igarashi has moved on from TOS. We so appreciate the six years she poured into our magazine. We want to publicly bless the Igarashi family and we pray that the Lord will continue to bless and keep them near to Him.

Child Sexual Abuse Allegations

Over the last two months, Jenefer Igarashi has revealed that the “heavy heart” of the Suarezs might actually have been much heavier — and disturbing — than the 2007 announcement suggested.

Beginning in April of this year, Igarashi began writing on her personal blog Jeneric Jeneralities about abuse, homeschooling, and the Christian church. Her first post on the matter was on April 24, entitled “When the Body Cuts Itself to Pieces.” It was a vague, but intense, piece. Igarashi wrote the following:

Being a part of a local body is crucial for Believers. There is safety. There is counsel. Also, there are witnesses.

The Christian Homeschool Community is not a church. It’s a movement. It’s not a church.

Naturally, one would hope that it is able to regulate itself, but is that even possible? How does a ‘movement’ regulate itself? Who is responsible to keep the bad apples out? The Leaders? Who are the Leaders? What if the Leaders are bad apples?

Igarashi never says what is prompting these questions. But something is clearly pressing on her mind:

In most cases Titus 3:10-11 would answer, ‘Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped.’ But what if there is a danger to others? What is the moral responsibility for those who have information? These are questions my husband and I are trying to work out right now. Likely you may soon hear about another huge and distressing ‘Homeschool Leader’ scandal.

A couple weeks later, on May 6, Igarashi writes another post, this one entitled “Mediation Attempt.” This post mentions names, but gives no indication as to the content. The entirety of the post is copied below:

May 5th, 2014 there was a mediation attempt, which involved Paul Suarez, Gena Suarez, Geoff Igarashi III, Jenefer Igarashi, Pastor Charlie ScalfPastor Ben Wright and Attorney David Gibbs.

The following ‘Joint Statement’ was put together then signed by all parties.

“About seven years ago we disagreed on how to handle a complex issue. Though we have not yet resolved the areas of disagreement, we have started the process of restoring our relationship. We love each other as a family and we have committed to rebuild that relationship and mutual trust in years to come. We desire to resolve any related division with other parties and to that end we ask that you contact whomever among us would be most appropriate. We pray that our work to reconcile with one another might reflect in some way the magnitude of God’s great mercy to reconcile with us through the sacrifice of His Son.”

There is no indication of what provoked this mediation process. However, note the involvement of “Attorney David Gibbs,” which is either the man known for defending accused child abusers (most notably, and recently, Bill Gothard!) or that same man’s son, know most recently for defending abuse victim Lourdes Torres-Manteufel against Vision Forum’s Doug Phillips. (Based on the above meditation statement, I would guess the former.) Either way, the fact that either one of these Gibbs would be involved in this mediation process is quite telling of the significance of this event.

Several weeks after this “Joint Statement,” Igarashi writes another post on May 18, this time entitled “Don’t Eat Plastic Apples.” Igarashi calls out people who would silence abuse survivors through words like “gossip” and “slander,” saying:

One of the classic tactics abusers use after they victimize a person is to further oppress them by condemning them as ‘gossips’  or ‘slanderers’ if they don’t cover up the abusers actions.

Abusers will create smoke and clamor to divert attention away from their abuse by pretending the ‘sin of gossip’ is the Sin of all Sins and is therefore sufficient grounds to discount any charge of real sin against them.

It is in this point that Igarashi first mentions the safety of children. She writes,

I’ll just speak plainly here. If there are men who have sexually abused children (or are being investigated as child predators) and you are told to keep your mouth shut about it, then it’s time to do something. Leaving with your children is a good first step.

If you feel children may be in danger and speak out about it, you are not a gossip. If somebody gives you a long biblical treatise about how their view on how to handle child predators within the church is the only biblical one (and their view protects offenders and demands that other parents are not to be made aware) know they are flat wrong.  If you’re told that you’re ‘possibly unsaved’ if you disagree with their views, you need to know that is a lie.

The Shoe Drops

Something went down on May 24, 2014, when Igarashi wrote a post entitled “An Apology.” Igarashi wrote a post, then retracted it into private status so that no one could read it. (An excerpt from the post, however, is visible here.) 3 days later, on May 27, Igarashi explains the retraction in the post “Pending”:

I have been asked to take the two posts down. I was asked to do this because we had signed an agreement to work through a different channel with the Suarez issue (part of that being we agreed not to go ‘public’ with the information) Whether or not that was a wise or proper thing for us to do is currently being debated.  But as it stands, since we did sign an agreement that outlined certain steps, we will honor it and stay silent regarding exposing things publicly for now.

However, I will say this. Geoff and I 100% stand behind  those who have been hurt and/or victimized.  Our eyes have been even more opened to the necessity of speaking out and the huge problem that currently exists in the church (at large) that hides divisiveness and the danger of silencing victims who speak up.  We’ve gotten such a huge response from people who have been suffering in the same, or similar, situation. Our hearts grieve over that.

We now find out that whatever provoked the mediation process guided by one of the David Gibbs’s, and whatever has inspired these thoughts about child abuse, homeschooling, and the Christian church — it has something to do with the “Suarez issue.” The Suarezes, remember, are the publishers of the “global homeschooling company” The Old Schoolhouse.

Finally, the entire shoe drops a month later, on June 19, 2014, in the post “It Just Needs to Stop.” Here Igarashi explains a truly disturbing story about the Suarezes and their alleged defense of know child predators — including one of their own sons — and how they gaslit, attacked, and silenced the families of the victims — one of those victims being Jenefer Igarashi’s son.

Igarashi explains that, when her son was only 6 years old, he was “repeatedly molested.” (The boy is now a week shy of 14, so this molestation happened approximately 7 years ago — the exact same time period in which Igarashi “moved on from TOS,” according to the Suarezes.) The person who molested him was “his older cousin,” who “had forced him to live with such disgusting memories.” Igarashi re-emphasizes this, saying the molester is her nephew:

We take issue with the practice of protecting a child molester (repentant or otherwise) at the expense of the victim and their family. I’ve been accused of ‘making my nephew out to be a monster’.

Then Igarashi reveals that the relative who molested her son is the “(then) teenage son” of Paul and Gena Suarez. (Gena and Jenefer are sisters, it turns out.) Yes, one of the sons of the Suarezes allegedly molested a 6-year-old child (and later two other children) and the Suarezes defended that son at the expense of their son’s victims.

More than One Predator

But then it gets worse.

According to Igarashi, the Suarez son is not the only known child predator that Paul and Gena Suarez have defended at the expense of victims. Igarashi writes,

There have been two other child predators (that we know of) who the Suarez’s actively protected. They demanded silence from those who knew and insisted on letting those predators have unfiltered access to family gatherings / child focused events. They insisted that families accept (what amounts to) a ‘zero accountability’ stance in regard to those men because they said the men had ‘repented’. And families who voiced concerned, or alerted other families to a potential danger, or who chose not to include the predators in their groups, were told they were in sin and were then condemned by the Suarez’s. One man, Roy Ballard, was later imprisoned for sexual assault against children. The other man they protected, Mike Marcum, was also imprisoned (for possession of child pornography).

Paul and Gena Suarez defended Roy Ballard, a convicted child abuser. Source:
Paul and Gena Suarez defended Roy Ballard, a convicted child abuser. Source:

You can view Roy Ballard’s record here, where he is listed as a registered sex offender for “aggravated criminal sexual abuse.” Steve and Julie Hauser, who attended the same home church as Paul and Gena Suarez, give a detailed account of how the Suarezes refused to believe a young child claiming inappropriate touch by Ballard and instead belittled and shamed that young child, her family, and those trying to stand up to abuse.

This account alleges, therefore, that Paul and Gena Suarez — publishers of The Old Schoolhouse Magazines and owners of a global homeschooling empire and Speakers Bureau — have tried to hide and protect (1) a teenage child molester, (2) a convicted, known, and repeat child abuser, and (3) an adult in possession of child pornography. This account has also been corroborated by numerous members of the Suarezes’ company and community.

And this? All while the Suarezes make money off their public image, an image that they are experts in “raising godly children” and experts in avoiding the evil “sexual encounters” children experience in public schools — all while their own teenager allegedly abuses his 6-year-old nephew and they turn a blind eye. There is nothing but irony, therefore, in the fact that Paul and Gena Suarez were the 2009 recipients of the “Dr. Robert Dreyfus Courageous Christian Leadership Award” from Frontline Ministries and the Exodus Mandate Project. So much for “courageous Christian leadership.”

And again, I’ll repeat: TOS is currently both a sponsor of the Great Homeschool Conventions and an HSLDA-suggested resource promoted to HSLDA members at a special discounted rate.

To conclude, I’ll quote from Igarashi’s latest post:

I’ve been accused of trying to ‘vindictively take down The Old Schoolhouse Magazine’. I reject that accusation. Paul and Gena made the choice to habitually divide with believers over secondary issues. They have also made the choice to condemn (multiple) families who spoke out against child predators. They made the choice to continue pursuing the spotlight as national leaders after knowing their highschooler repeatedly molested more than one child.

The question now becomes: will Christian homeschool leaders stand together against this abuse to condemn — and refuse a future spotlight to — Paul and Gena Suarez?

Oak Brook College of Law Distances Itself from Bill Gothard and IBLP

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

In the wake of allegations and evidence that Bill Gothard has sexually harassed and molested young women for several decades, Oak Brook College of Law (OBCL) has announced plans to distance itself from Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principles.

When OBCL was launched in 1995, it was done so as a joint effort between Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute (ATI) and HSLDA stakeholders. Bill Gothard served as the law school’s Chancellor, Michael Farris served on the Board of Trustees, and former HSLDA director and staff attorney Jordan Lorence served as the school’s Constitutional Law Professor as well as Chairman of Oak Brook’s Board of Advisors.

OBCL was launched by ATI itself. Their graduation ceremonies have been held at IBLP Training Centers. Law students at OBCL not only study Bill Gothard’s Basic Seminar material, but up until last year were required by Oak Brook’s official college policies — as a prerequisite for admission — to attend “all the sessions of the Seminar in Basic Life Principles sponsored by the Institute in Basic Life Principles.”

Much of this appears to be changing, however, with the college’s recently announced plans. These plans involve three organizational changes, specified on Tuesday, February 18, through an internal news bulletin by OBCL to their faculty, staff, alumni, and current students. (Oak Brook’s website still has no official public statement on the matter.) These changes are:

1. Bill Gothard will “no longer serve as chancellor.”

2. Oak Brook’s board, which previously “consisted of a few IBLP Board members and several OBCL faculty and alumni,” will — at least for the present year — include “no IBLP Board members.”

Note: While #2 is technically accurate, it can also be misleading. There remains a strong and significant connection between Oak Brook, Bill Gothard, and IBLP as Oak Brook’s current board includes Bob Barth. While Bob Barth is technically not an IBLP board member, he is nonetheless a key figure in Gothard’s empire. Barth is not only the General Legal Counsel for IBLP, he is the Secretary for 3 organizations of which Bill Gothard is President: IBLP, Embassy International, and ALERT.

3. Whereas all prospective Oak Brook students were required as of last year to take IBLP’s Seminar in Basic Life Principles, the school will “no longer require completion of the Seminar in Basic Youth Conflicts as a prerequisite for admission.”

You can view the college’s internal news bulletin in full as a PDF here.

IBLP has reciprocated the distancing, no longer listing Oak Brook as one of its “educational programs.” This is a new change as of at least February 3, when IBLP still listed the college as one of their programs. (A screen capture from February 1 confirms this as a recent change as well.)

These announcements come slightly more than week after Jordan Lorence emailed Homeschoolers Anonymous and said that, as of February 10, he had “resigned from all of [his] connections with Oak Brook College of Law.”

Neither OBCL nor IBLP has made any public statement on either these organizational changes, the evidence concerning Bill Gothard’s abusive actions, or IBLP’s attempts to ignore Gothard’s abusive actions — or if there is any relationship between them.

Dear Michael Farris, Sexual Abuse Isn’t a “Basic Strength” That “Can Get Out of Control”

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator


“You have planted wickedness and harvested a thriving crop of sins. You have eaten the fruit of lies — trusting in your own way, believing that your great armies could make your nation safe.”
~ Hosea 10:13


On Sunday, HSLDA’s Michael Farris made his first public statement on the recent controversies surrounding Doug Phillips’s clergy sexual abuse and Bill Gothard’s sexual child abuse.

Take a look:

I continue to hear distressing news about the moral conduct of Christian leaders and speakers some of whom were/are popular in the homeschooling movement. Of course, anyone can sin–including me. But I cannot be so gracious about protracted patterns of sin that reveal a deep hypocrisy.

From my own observation there is a central problem that often accompanies these kinds of failures. All leaders have to have a certain amount of ego strength to be able to withstand the slings and arrows of the naysayers who attack anyone who attempts to lead. But, that basic strength can get out of control. Consider it a danger sign when the leader never shares the spotlight with other leaders in the organization. Consider it another danger sign when the leader does not have anyone in his organization with both the power and the character to tell him “no” at times.

Mike Smith has been at my side at HSLDA from the beginning and he now leads the organization day to day. Chris Klicka was a significant part of our leadership team for many years as well. And I guarantee you that both Mike Smith and the HSLDA board tell me “no” on semi-regular occasions.

I am also reminded of the statement of Dick Armey when he was asked what his wife would say if he was caught in an affair like Bill Clinton. He said, “She would say ‘how do I reload this thing?’ as I lay there in a pool of blood.”

Having a wife who is a good shot is also a great asset.

(Farris’s statement is archived on HA as a PDF here and a PNG here.)

Just so we’re all on the same page, let’s review what exactly the “distressing news” is concerning individuals who “were/are popular in the homeschooling movement”:

While in a position of hegemonic spiritual leadership, Doug Phillips pursued a sexual relationship with a young woman who worked for him and was under his authority. This is clergy sexual abuse.

Bill Gothard has sexually harassed and molested over 30 young woman, including children, for decades. He personally admitted “defrauding” young women decades ago. This is child sexual abuse.

Taking advantage of, harassing, and/or molesting children and young adult women isn’t simply “sin” or “hypocrisy” which “anyone” can fall into. Taking advantage of, harassing, and/or molesting children and young adult women is criminal behavior. It is sexual abuse, plain and simply. This isn’t a question of people’s fallibility; it isn’t a question of “ego strength,” unless you somehow believe leaders are innately abusers.

And it sure as hell isn’t a question of “basic strengths.” Sexual abuse isn’t a “basic strength” that “can get out of control.” It’s not something that comes from “too much of a good thing.” Michael Farris’s attempts to spin these situations away from criminal activity and into the realm of “we’ve all fallen short” is self-serving, inexcusable, and horrifying. It is yet another example that he is in denial about abuse within the movement he himself helped to build.

Making this statement of his even more ironic and tragic is that a mere day later after Farris praised himself for accountability and looked down on other leaders for not taking “protected patterns of sin” seriously — just one day later — the New Republic released a devastating look at how Patrick Henry College has handled sexual assault cases on its campus, entitled “Sexual Assault at Patrick Henry College, God’s Harvard.”

The basic premise?

Patrick Henry College, which Michael Farris founded and is currently the Chancellor of, does not take protracted patterns of sexual assault seriously.

Patrick Henry College has ignored, minimized, and threatened abuse survivors and people standing up for them. Just like Doug Phillips and Vision Forum. Just like Bill Gothard and IBLP.

And yet Farris still has the gall to praise himself for treating “protracted patterns” differently.

The hypocrisy did not go unnoticed. Homeschool alumni took to Farris’s page to call him out for making such a statement about Phillips and Gothard right when the story about PHC was coming out. Farris’s response was predictable, considering it was completely deja vu from HSLDA’s handling of the #HSLDAMustCampaign: he quickly deleted the evidence of his original statement (which, again, HA archived as a PDF here and a PNG here), deleted comment after comment after comment after comment by homeschool alumni, and blocked homeschool alumni from his public page.

Honestly, Michael Farris has run out of time to play these games.

He has spent decades ignoring the growing, obvious, and publicly verified problems — and what did he do? He remained silent. He has never publicly condemned the abusive teachings of Doug Phillips. He has never publicly condemned the soul-crushing system of Bill Gothard’s ATI. (In fact, he himself brought Inge ATI’s Inge Cannon to HSLDA and HSLDA continues to feature Gothard’s homeschool curriculum on its website.) He has refused to this day to acknowledge the concerns of homeschool alumni and parents that homeschool communities need to take abuse more seriously specifically because of reasons like this.

And when when he finally breaks his silence, it is with this? Yet another attempt to sweep everything under the rug by saying these abusers were just “too strong” for their own good, that praise God he has two (?) people at HSLDA who stand up to him (but one is deceased?), and then he closes with a joke about domestic homicide?

Not once, not even once, does he say, “What these men did was abuse, and it was wrong, and we as a community need to take abuse seriously.”

Not. Once.

Not once does he say, “I am sorry that I gave platforms to and partnered with these individuals that have caused so much pain for so many people.” Instead it’s “basic strengths” that “got out of control” and basically people should be more like him or lol their wives will shoot them.

Even with this short-lived statement, Michael Farris still refused to call these men out by name. He was still afraid to directly criticize Bill Gothard. He is still hiding.

Homeschooled children deserve better from you, Michael.

If you continue to refuse to call abuse abuse, you’re contributing to the exact same culture of silence from which Phillips and Gothard fed — the exact same culture of silence that you intimately built and continue to defend.

Like Acid on Skin: Myra’s Story

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Series disclaimer: HA’s “Let’s Talk About Sex (Ed)” series contains frank, honest, and uncensored conversations about sexuality and sex education. It is intended for mature audiences.

Pseudonym note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Myra” is a pseudonym.

Trigger warnings: the following story contains descriptions of physical and sexual abuse of a child.


Perhaps this is just for me, for me to finally put into words the terrible pain in my heart, which seems to slowly eat away at life like acid on skin. Sexual education.

I received none as a child, absolutely none.

The following story might be confusing in places because I have recently been told I suffer from PTSD and DID, or dissociative identity disorder. Large portions of my childhood are missing, confused, or simply changed. Only recently has the truth been resurfacing in my mind.

I was homeschooled my entire life growing up, and my family was the homeschooling family to be in our area.

My mother kept a computer in the house that was password protected and we were never allowed to use it unless we were typing. I found her password book one day tucked under her mattress when I was cleaning the house. When I was a teenager I snuck out of my room in the middle of the night and I searched sex, rape, and pornography on the World Wide Web. They were all terms I had heard before, mostly associated with evil and the world going to the devil at church.

Needless to say I got a first-hand pseudo sex education from the porn industry.  And I was hooked. I spent every night on that computer watching pornography in a trance. I realized, eventually, that I had been masturbating since before I could remember as a self-soothing mechanism when I was spanked. I also realized that my father touched me after beating me (it was called spanking but I was always left with bruises from the middle of my back to my knees) to make me stop crying.

I had my first orgasm as a small child with my father.

Frankly, the experience was beyond confusing. The actual experience with him was pleasurable not painful at all, but it forever associated being beaten with sex for me. And obviously, I was being molested even thought I did not know it. I honestly thought it was how people were supposed to comfort their children. The intense shame and regret I felt as a teenager immediately caused me to dissociate the memory and place it in my mind in a place that was carefully guarded.

I do not know how long this abuse continued or when it started. There are other elements of the abuse that I have recently remembered but are too fresh, raw, and frankly too explicit to detail.

My mother spanked me between the legs whenever she caught me masturbating. When I was almost a teenager I was raped by a family friend.

Today I am left with a confusing mixture of sexual issues. I have a hard time not associating sex with punishment. I have a hard time not seeing sex as something used to make someone feel better, basically, used as a commodity, I have a hard time associating intimacy with sexual action.

Having any sort of sexual education might have helped me see that I was being taken advantage of by the people who were supposed to care for me. Perhaps it would not have, I honestly do not know. I do know that it could have saved me from a life long struggle with pornography addiction.

I hear others talking about how wonderful, intimate and generally fireworkery, sex is.

I wish that had not been taken from me.

I wish I had not been so isolated. I wish I had been told more about sex.