By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator
On February 5, 2016, Bill Gothard’s attorney Glenn Gaffney and the Institute for Basic Life Principles’ (IBLP) attorneys at the Collins Law Firm filed similar motions with the Circuit Court of DuPage County, Illinois. These actions relate to the court case Gretchen Wilkinson vs. Institute in Basic Life Principles, in which eighteen former employees and students are suing Gothard and IBLP for sexual harassment and assault and mishandling those crimes.
HA obtained copies of the motions and related exhibits. Both Gothard and IBLP’s motions aim to disqualify David C. Gibbs III and the Gibbs Law Firm from representing the eighteen plaintiffs. They include two exhibits: sworn affidavits (testimonies under oath) and documents that Gothard and IBLP believe prove that Gibbs violated the Illinois Rules for Professional Conduct (IRPC) in his interactions with them.
The sworn affidavits come from both Gothard as well as Roger Blair, who was present when Gibbs first approached Gothard to talk about the abuse allegations. Gothard’s affidavit includes a number of personal emails between him and Gibbs that Gothard believes amount to legal advice and/or representation. In Blair’s affidavit, he claims that he witnessed Gibbs communicate to Gothard that he would help reinstate him on the IBLP Board. Blair additionally alleges that Gibbs offered to help Gothard derail the allegations against him. Blair testifies,
Mr. Gibbs spoke as if he were connected to the individuals behind Recovering Grace and had inside knowledge that would be valuable to Bill. I recall Mr. Gibbs saying, “I know how to handle it.” He stated that Bill “was wronged” and that it was unfair that “people are trying to destroy your ministry as well as other ministries.” Mr. Gibbs stated that he read allegations on the Recovering Grace website and he knew that they were false. He said that he knew how to adequately respond to “get rid of it.”
Gothard and IBLP’s motions differ in a few regards. Gothard’s motion seeks to bar the eighteen plaintiffs from using any information (including “any statements, correspondence, emails, communications, records, reports, or other documents”) collected from Gothard by Gibbs in alleged violation of the IRPC. Gothard bases this request on the legal precedent that evidence improperly obtained can be deemed inadmissible in court.
IBLP’s motion does not seek to bar the plaintiffs from using such information. However, it does contain an additional insinuation: that Gibbs did not include Gothard as a defendant in the original lawsuit in order to obtain evidence from him through deceptive means. IBLP points to an email Gothard sent Gibbs on May 30, 2015 in which Gothard wrote, “God will honor you for your generous spirit.” IBLP believes this indicates Gibbs was providing him with “support and counsel” in order to get information from him. As Gibbs is not generally licensed to practice law in Illinois, but rather is working pro hac vice, IBLP is moving to terminate his temporary license to practice law in the state due to this alleged misconduct. IBLP’s motion also specifically requests that the eighteen plaintiffs be given “an appropriate period of time to secure new representation.”
The motions, exhibits, and other relevant documents can be viewed below:
It should be emphasized that these motions have neither been granted or denied by a judge or court at this time. Colorado CLE Legal Connection notes that, “Motions to disqualify are far from rare occurrences” and sometimes “are nothing more than a litigation tactic, forcing attorneys to scramble to protect valued client relationships.”
HA reached out to David C. Gibbs III this morning for comment. This afternoon he issued a full statement to us denouncing the latest motions as “a desperate attempt to attack the law firm that is publicly and legally holding [Gothard] accountable for years of child abuse.” You can read a summary of Gibbs’ statement and its full text here.