Homeschool Leader Rick Boyer, Sr. Accused Of Sexual Harassment, Grooming

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator.

Rick Boyer, Sr. serves on the Board of Directors of the Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV) and was a recent partner with HSLDA for HEAV’s Leadership Conference. Last year he made news for his statement that, “‘Abuse’ is the new ‘racism.’ As soon as you’re accused of it, you’re considered guilty.” This came in the context of Boyer publicly defending Josh Duggar, the oldest son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, after it came to light that Josh had engaged in child sexual abuse. Boyer has also defended Bill Gothard, the creator of the homeschool program ATI that the Duggars use and someone also accused by over 30 women of sexual abuse and harassment.

Today Ashley Easter, a homeschool alumna and writer, came forward with allegations against Boyer. Easter alleges that Boyer began pursuing and grooming her when she was only seventeen years old. She writes, “I was seventeen when Rick Boyer Sr. (author, speaker and founder of The Learning Parent (now Character Concepts)) first took an interest in me. I was lonely and insecure, looking for affirmation and a place to fit in the world. He was like a father figure to me.” When Boyer encouraged her to write a book, Easter says she “felt honored that such a big name homeschool leader would believe in me.”

Easter alleges that, as time went by, Boyer’s grooming escalated. She claims that he began calling her pet names, touching her, giving her full-body-contact hugs, and eventually kissing her and forcing her to kiss him. These are all classic grooming techniques of sexual abusers.

Easter says she is speaking up now because of the strong influence Boyer has in the Christian homeschooling world:

My concern is that Rick Boyer Sr. isn’t just some random guy from my former church. He is a public speaker, author, and leader in the homeschooling movement. He personally knows and has been a vocal supporter of many other leaders like the Duggar family, Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard. But he is known as “Uncle Rick” in our circles, the guy whom little children look forward to meeting in costume, and who encourages children to sit on his lap as he reads stories to them at homeschooling events. He is also on the board for HEAV (Home Educators Association of Virginia) and was involved with HSLDA’s (The Home School Legal Defense Association) National Christian Homeschool Leadership Conference. He is also a reserve deputy sheriff in Virginia.

Last year Boyer wrote the following about Bill Gothard: “[Gothard] was ACTUALLY found to be guilty of was touching some girls’ hands, hair and feet. He was honest enough to admit that these things were inappropriate and resign.” Despite being accused of the same actions and more, Boyer himself has yet to resign from the Home Educators Association of Virginia. His name continues to be listed on HEAV’s website as a member of their Board of Directors (image archived here).

UPDATE, Friday, April 15, 11:25 am Pacific:

Anne Miller, President and Executive Director of HEAV, gave the following statement to HA: “I was completely unaware of any allegations against Rick Boyer. Our board will certainly be looking into these allegations.”

A Summary of Allegations against Bill Gothard and IBLP

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on January 7, 2016.

CW: Descriptions of child sexual abuse, rape, and sexual harassment

It has been nearly two years since Bill Gothard stepped down from leadership at his ministry, the Institute for Basic Life Principles (IBLP), amid a growing number of accusations that he sexually harassed and molested girls and young women in his employ. This past October, a group of individuals filed a negligence lawsuit against IBLP. This lawsuit has been amended, and Bill Gothard is now named as well.

This week, Homeschoolers Anonymous obtained the text of the lawsuit, which involves complaints made by ten women, seven named and three Jane Does. This document is over 100 pages long. In the interest of improving accessibility, I have read through the entire document and am listing a summary of each woman’s allegations below. But first, some general thoughts.

Some of the allegations listed in the document were previously published at Recovering Grace, a website run by graduates of Gothard’s programs to express criticism of Gothard and his teachings, and others are similar in content to these allegations. In sum, Bill Gothard selected girls as young as 13 from the audiences at his conferences and invited them to come work at headquarters. Once there, he groomed them sexually and molested them. It was common knowledge at IBLP that Gothard took “pets,” and yet his behavior was allowed to continue unchecked.

Other allegations included in the lawsuit are new, though not surprising. One plaintiff discloses that Gothard raped her, including full intercourse. In addition, we learn that Gothard and his employees failed to report disclosures of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and human trafficking as required by law for organizations working with children, and that this was true not only for allegations made against Gothard but also for disclosures that involved sexual abuse conducted by other IBLP employees or by children’s parents.

In several cases Gothard responded to teenagers’ disclosures of parental abuse by calling the parents, sometimes in front of the teen, to ask them whether the allegations were true. At one point he told an individual that children must obey their parents even in cases involving sexual abuse. However, when an 18-year-old girl Gothard was pursuing rebuffed him, he told her that if she were 17 he would have called social services and had her removed from her parents’ home.

We also learn more, in the allegations, about Gothard’s grooming and the extent to which he would latch onto a specific girl as his “pet.” The plaintiffs allege that Gothard told them he loved them, that they were special to him, that they were his “energy giver,” and more. He dictated where these girls lived, what clothes they wore, how the wore their hair, and even paid for them to undergo cosmetic surgery. That all of this was taking place and was common knowledge and nothing was done attests to the abusive power cult leaders wield over their followers.

Also of note, the lawsuit makes it clear that Gothard continued his predatory behavior all the way up to the point he stepped down from IBLP in 2013. Two of the plaintiffs, Melody Fedoriw and Jane Doe III, describe abuse that occurred in 2011 and 2012. This is especially appalling to me, given that I had friends from growing up who worked for IBLP and at headquarters during this period and in the years immediately before it. I’ll be honest—when I first opened the document I scanned the list quickly, worried that I was see a familiar name.

For most of the women listed in the lawsuit, the statute of limitations for the sexual abuse they suffered at Gothard’s hands have passed. For this reason, the lawsuit focuses not so much on the abuse itself as on the failure of both Gothard and IBLP to handle the abuse as required by law and on the damage caused through the sham investigation conducted by the Christian Law Association (CLA) in 2014.

According to the lawsuit, Gothard himself chose the CLA to conduct IBLP’s internal investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct. CLA is a fundamentalist Independent Baptist organization run by David Gibbs, Jr., a personal friend of Gothard’s and a frequent speaker at IBLP conferences. CLA has no staff qualified for investigating abuse allegations, and the organization failed to contact or interview the individuals named in the lawsuit, in spite of the fact that many of them had already published their allegations and that it was these allegations that had triggered the internal investigation.

The lawsuit also claims that IBLP has made moves to sell its holdings in Illinois in order to avoid being sued there, where the majority of the abuse occurred.

These women—both the plaintiffs and those who have not been in positions to come forward—deserved better. They were failed on multiple levels. My heart goes out to the ten women serving as plaintiffs on this lawsuit, and with every survivor of Gothard’s abuse who has had to put one foot in front of another day after day. One of the women, Jane Doe III, describes the personal harassment and verbal assault she faced from Gothard after publishing her accusations in the comment section of Recovering Grace in 2012. To my knowledge, this is the first time any of Gothard’s survivors have come forward under their own names. Many of these women will lose family members or friends for what they are doing. They and the other survivors supporting them from behind the scenes are to be commended for their efforts to bring Gothard and IBLP to justice and help protect future young people from facing similar pain.

I am going to summarize the allegations of each woman below, with quotes from the lawsuit. I am doing so in order to get this information out there. Remember, there are still individuals out there defending Bill Gothard. I don’t want them to have any excuse—including the excuse that the information is buried in a 100+ page document full of legalese—not to view and learn the allegations involved in this current website.

First, a very brief summary:

Gretchen Wilkinson was groomed and molested by Gothard during counseling from 1991 to 1993 while was still a minor.

Jane Doe was severely abused by her adoptive parents. When she reported this to Gothard as a young teenager, he blamed her and failed to notify the authorities.

Jane Doe II was sexually abused and trafficked by her father. When she told IBLP staff they failed to notify the authorities. She was also raped as a child by IBLP employee Kenneth Copley while at the Indianapolis Training Center. She reported this, but the other IBLP employees did not believe her.

Melody Fedoriw was groomed and molested by Gothard while working at headquarters in 2012 at age 15.

Charis Barker was groomed and sexually harassed by Gothard while working at headquarters in the late 1990s, beginning at age 18.

Rachel Frost was groomed and sexually harassed by Gothard while working at headquarters in the early to mid-1990s, beginning at age 15.

Rachel Lees was groomed and sexually harassed by Gothard while working at headquarters in the early 1990s, beginning at age 19 or 20.

Jane Doe III was groomed by Gothard in the late 2010s beginning at age 13.

Jamie Deering was groomed and molested by Gothard while working at headquarters in the early to mid-1990s, beginning at age 14.

Ruth Copley Burger was sexually abused by her father, Kenneth Copley, while the family lived at the Indianapolis Training Center in the mid-1990s when she was 11 or 12.

Now a more detailed summary. As you read this, if you choose to do so, please remember that these women have come forward not to give people more fodder to use to mock “fundies” but rather to bring accountability to IBLP and bring Gothard to justice. They are have told their stories not to initiate a snark fest but rather to bring change. Many of the women involved in this lawsuit are still strong believers in God and the Bible. This isn’t about making a strike against religion, it’s about making a strike against abuse and bringing meaningful change.

Gretchen Wilkinson

Gretchen was an IBLP participant and employee as a minor from 1991 to 1993. She was molested by Bill Gothard while being counseled in his home office. According to the lawsuit:

45. The molestation included Bill Gothard placing his hands on Ms. Wilkinson’s breasts and on her thighs—up to her genitals, while she was clothed.

Gretchen was a minor at this time. Gretchen published her account with Recovering Grace under the name “Charlotte.”

Jane Doe

Jane Doe attended IBLP conferences from 1982 to 1988. Jane Doe was abused and neglected by her adoptive family, including sexual abuse by multiple male relatives and severe physical abuse. According to the lawsuit, “she was beaten so severely by her adoptive family that she would duck and flinch anytime someone came near.” When Jane Doe told Gothard about her abuse as a teenager, he not only failed to report it but also blamed her for her own abuse.

80. On several occasions—including when JANE DOE was 14, 15, and 16 years old, JANE DOE informed Bill Gothard of her physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. Bill Gothard’s response was to advise her to ‘let go of her bitterness,’ and to ‘let go of her rights,’ and to ‘stop being rebellious.’ Bill Gothard always made the abuse JANE DOE’s fault.

Gothard also sought to cast demons out of Jane Doe.

82. When she was approximately 15 years old, JANE DOE became aware of Bill Gothard’s teaching that adopted children should be ‘given back’ to their biological parents or to the state. Bill Gothard taught that due to the ‘curse of the sins of the forefathers’ adopted children were doomed to repeat the evils of their biological parents. Bill Gothard also taught that adoptive children tainted a family’s biological children. Thus the reason they should be given back.

83. Bill Gothard attributed his teachings about adopted children to ‘demonic forces’ that he claims affect these children. He taught that if adoptive children were not ‘returned,’ they should at least be ordered to ‘earn their keep’ in the family home. It was his teaching that they should be treated more like slaves than children.

Under the influence of Gothard’s teachings, Jane Doe’s parents ultimately kicked her out of the house and disowned her. Her mother beat her again the day she was kicked out.

At around this time Jane Doe spoke again with Bill Gothard, expressing concern that her siblings, too, were being abused. Gothard never reported anything to social services. Jane Doe wrote to the IBLP Board, letting them know what she had told Gothard, and they, too, failed to report anything.

Jane Doe II

From 1991 (when she was four) through 2009, Jane Doe II participated in IBLP programs and served as an IBLP volunteer. She was physically, emotionally, and sexually abused in her home, as were her siblings. According to the lawsuit, she was “raped by her father and other relatives” and “sold for sex by her father through commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking.” Jane Doe II reported both the severe sexual abuse and the human trafficking to IBLP staff, but those staff members did not contact authorities.

As a child, Jane Doe II was raped by Kenneth Copley, a counselor at ATI’s Indianapolis training center. Jane Doe II reported this rape to IBLP staff, but nothing was done and nothing was reported to authorities.

Jane Doe II later told Gothard about her abuse.

128. On at least five occasions, JANE DOE II told Bill Gothard that she was being sexually abused by her father and that her younger siblings were also being abused. Bill Gothard took pleasure in the details presented and kept pressuring JANE DOE II for more explicit details of the abuse that took place.

129. On one occasion, when JANE DOE II disclosed details about her abuse and the abuse of her siblings, Bill Gothard called JANE DOE II’s father on a speakerphone and asked if the allegations were true. JANE DOE II’s father denied the allegations. JANE DOE II was humiliated by this process. The last time JANE DOE II tried to disclose abuse, Bill Gothard personally threatened her. Bill Gothard taught that parents were to be believed over children and that children were to obey their parents no matter what, even if they were being sexually abused.

A short time later, Bill Gothard took Jane Doe II to his “private suite” and raped her.

During this entire time, neither Gothard nor any of the numerous other IBLP staff members who also knew of Jane Doe II’s accusations against her father and against Kenneth Copley notified authorities.

Melody Fedoriw

Melody attended IBLP’s Journey to the Heart in 2011 and worked at IBLP headquarters during much of 2012. During her time as an employee at headquarters, Melody, only 15 years old, was groomed and molested by Gothard.

169. Bill Gothard would call Ms. Fedoriw into his office late at night for Bible study and to mentor her. During this time, Bill Gothard would always want to sit on the couch with Ms. Fedoriw.

170. During the Bible study and mentoring process, Ms. Fedoriw reported the fact that she was being abused by a parent to Bill Gothard.

171. Bill Gothard then called Ms. Fedoriw’s parents and disclosed the abuse information that she had disclosed in confidence to her abuser.

172. By the second instance of late night Bible study/mentoring, Bill Gothard was putting his arms round Ms. Fedoriw and pulling her closer to him.

173. Despite the fact that Ms. Fedoriw confronted Bill Gothard about his conduct, it continued.

174. Bill Gothard continued to touch Ms. Fedoriw in ways that made her uncomfortable, including rubbing her back and legs. While Bill Gothard was rubbing Ms. Fedoriw’s legs, he would move his hands to her upper thigh. Bill Gothard was touching Ms. Fedoriw very close to her vaginal area, when he rubbed her upper thighs.

The above quote is long, so let me summarize. Gothard had one-one-one late night mentoring sessions with Melody, who was then 15 and living at headquarters. When Melody disclosed abuse she had suffered at her parent’s hands, he called her parent and reported what she had said. He also sexually molested her during these mentoring sessions despite her attempts to get him to stop.

In March 2014, after Gothard stepped down from his position, Melody reported Gothard’s conduct to the local police department. The police department classified Gothard’s actions as criminal but did not prosecute because they had passed the statute of limitations.

Charis Barker

Charis Barker’s involvement with IBLP began in 1986, when her family enrolled in the ATI program when she was six, and continued through 2000. In 1997, when she was 17, Gothard singled her out at an IBLP seminar and invited her to come work at headquarters. When she was 18, she left home for headquarters, first as a volunteer and then as an employee. While there, Gothard groomed and sexually harassed her.

211. At lunch, at times in his office, while riding in his van, while sitting on his couch, whoever possible, Gothard’s feet would touch Ms. Barker’s feet, whenever her had the opportunity.

212. Gothard’s sexual harassment of Ms. Barker got to the point that the only way she was able to prevent Gothard from touching her feet, while riding in his van, was for Ms. Barker to sit on her feet.

213. Whenever she sat on the couch in his office, he would sit very close to her and put his hands on her knee.

214. During church he would lay his head on her shoulder and he would at least pretend to fall asleep.

Over time, Charis became more and more uncomfortable, and ultimately contacted her parents, who “assured her that Bill Gothard would never inappropriately touch anyone.” Gothard’s behavior continued for the 18 months Charis spent at headquarters. Charis stayed to complete her year-long employment contract (after six months of volunteering). Her parents told her that if she was kicked out of headquarters, she should consider herself kicked out at home, too.

Charis published her story with Recovering Grace under the pseudonym “Grace.”

Rachel Frost

Rachel Frost was a volunteer and employee at IBLP headquarters from 1992 to 1995. Gothard singled Rachel out at an ATI conference when she was 15 and asked her to come work at headquarters. Rachel initially demurred, saying that she was too young, but Gothard hounded her and wore her down, paying for her plane ticket and handing her cash to attend to her needs once she arrived. Gothard then groomed and sexually harassed her.

259. Gothard told Ms. Frost that he wanted to keep her close to him, so she started her work at headquarters as one of his personal assistants (secretaries). However, at the age of fifteen (15), she had poor secretarial skills and no understanding of how the organization ran or who was important. After a week in his office, Ms. Frost was moved to the ATI Department.

Gothard paid Rachel special attention and would touch her feet with is during lunch; she eventually learned to keep her feet back behind her chair to prevent this. Gothard sent a 17-year-old boy home for talking and flirting with Rachel.

265. Gothard advised Ms. Frost that she had a special place in his heart and advised her that he wanted her to remain at headquarters indefinitely.

Rachel returned home after three weeks because of family issues, but Gothard called her soon afterward to ask her to travel with him on a trip to Australia and then to come to headquarters permanently. He offered to pay all of her expenses. Rachel’s parents wanted her to stay at home and finish her education, but were worn down by Gothard’s constant requests. At age 15, Rachel took the GED and headed to headquarters to work for Gothard’s ministry “indefinitely.”

Once she was back at headquarters, Gothard continued to single Rachel out, and gradually initiated further inappropriate physical contact. He sexually harassed Rachel during van trips, pushing his thighs against hers, grabbing her hair, and touching her legs with his fingers and her feet with his feet.

274. As a result of the special treatment and physical attention she received from Gothard, Ms. Frost was referred to as Gothard’s “pet,” his “type,” his “favorite,” or a “Gothard girl.” The sexual harassment, and special attention were no secret. Gothard’s conduct was common knowledge to the IBLP staff.

Rachel began looking for excuses to avoid Gothard, and ultimately left for a job as a nanny. Rachel published her story on the Recovering Grace website.

Rachel Lees

Rachel Lees served as Gothard’s secretary from 1992 to 1993, during the same time Rachel Frost was at headquarters, and had many similar experiences. Rachel was 19 or 20 when Gothard met her at a seminar in New Zealand and asked her to come work at headquarters. He assigned her to himself personally. When she was running low on money, he gave her cash. He quizzed her about former boyfriends and wanted to hear the details of any moral failings she may have had.

312. Approximately six to eight weeks after Ms. Lees began working for Gothard, she noticed that he found reasons to touch her. The touching consisted of sitting so close to her that they were touching. He would sit close, so that his arm or hand would brush against hers. It progressed from there to other physical contact, which made Ms. Lees uncomfortable. The other physical contact included lingering hugs and holding hands. Gothard also began to find reasons to be alone with Ms. Lees.

313. Gothard told Ms. Lees that it was fun. He liked being with her, “just you and me.”

At one point, while on a trip to Dallas, Gothard called Rachel to his hotel room alone, and embraced her as they sat on the couch. At another point, Gothard embraced her and whispered in her ear, telling her that she was his “jewel” and his “energy-giver.”

317. On a long drive to Detroit, Ms Lees felt Gothard put his hands on hers. Later, she felt his foot brush up against her leg. When she first felt his foot run up the back of her leg, she was startled. He locked his leg under hers, and she felt his foot rubbing against hers. He was playing “footsie” with her. But Ms. Lees describes Gothard’s actions as more intimate than that. His foot stroked the back of her leg, played with her toes, explored her leg all the way up her calf muscle and back down over and over again, while he was tripping her hand in between them. When Ms. Lees lifted her hand to intentionally break his hold, Gothard pulled her hand over his thigh. When she resisted, he held her hand and rested it on his thigh, covering her hand with his. He patted her hand, massaged it, rubbed her fingers with his dumb, running his dumb slowly up and down between her fingers, over and over. Gothard would frequently hold hands with Ms. Lees during travel.

And once again, this attention was not secret.

318. Gothard’s emotional and physical attraction to Ms. Lees was no secret at IBLP. On one occasion, the wife of an IBLP Board member approached Ms. Lees and told her that people had expressed concern about “the attachment between you and [Gothard].” “People are starting to notice that he is paying you special attention.”

At one point, one of Gothard’s sisters accused Rachel of wanting to marry Gothard, and was angry with her. Gothard pushed his control further, arranging for a doctor to remove Rachel’s small skin blemishes, which he called “a distraction.” In 1993 Rachel was forced to leave IBLP headquarters due to immigration issues.

Years later, Rachel learned that Gothard had sought permission from the IBLP Board to marry her. She was horrified at this information, finally recognizing him as a predator. She learned that the board denied Gothard permission to marry her. At this time, Bill Gothard was nearly 60 years old. Rachel was 20. The board also reportedly told Gothard that they were not going to allow him to have female personal assistants in the future, but they never enforced this rule.

Rachel published her story with Recovering Grace under the name “Meg.”

Jane Doe III

Jane Doe III participated in ATI from 2003 through 2012. In 2006, Gothard approached Jane Doe III at a seminar and asked her to join a missions opportunity on his staff as soon as she turned 14. Jane Doe III declined the invitation because of a medical condition, and Gothard spent the following five years badgering her.

352. . . . Gothard frequently used the stress in JANE DOE III’s home as a reason that she should come to headquarters.

353. In 2011, at the age of 18, Bill Gothard aggressively pursued JANE DOE III at a conference in Indianapolis. At 11:00 PM one night, he called JANE DOE III’s father to ask permission for her “to come to headquarters for 3-4 weeks” to “learn how to respect him.”

354. Gothard did not want JANE DOE III to work. He just wanted her to come counsel with him personally to learn how to deal with the stress of her strained relationship with her father.

When Jane Doe III’s parents finally agreed to let her come to headquarters for several weeks, Gothard wanted to come pick her up in his van immediately. Her mother refused, insisting on driving her to headquarters herself the following week.

356. When JANE DOE III arrived at headquarters, Gothard announced: “the day I have been waiting for for six years—you are finally here.”

357. Gothard then informed JANE DOE III, that her “[f]ather has lost his authority over [her], because of his behavior. We are your family now.” He made an analogy to Jesus on the cross telling John to care for Mary, her mother.

Rather than counseling her, Gothard focused on convincing Jane Doe III to stay at headquarters permanently. He attempted to turn her against her mother, and to convince her to send her mother away. When Jane Doe III refused, and explained that her mother was her “best friend” and that she would not be separated from her, Gothard commented efforts to convince Jane’s mother to divorce her father and stay and work at headquarters.

361. Gothard would hold JANE DOE III’s hand, touch her hair, carries her, wink at her, whisper in her ear, kick her feet under the table, place his shoes on top of hers when sitting on the couch, and be very flirtatious with her. Frequently, he would press his thigh against hers while sitting together, place his arm along the top / back of the sofa or chair. He would complement her hair, smile and laugh several times per day. He directed her never to cut her hair. He would say to her: “[JANE DOE III] come over here.” “You belong here. Perfect Angel. Beautiful. Amazing.” He said to her: “I love you, you know that, right?” “Maybe you dad doesn’t love you, but I do.” “God has put a special love in my heart to you.” “You are my energy giver.” “I love being around you.” She felt that other people knew that she was one of “Gothard’s pets.” This made her uncomfortable and she would shake her head and with a stern look would frown and correct Gothard and tell him: “No, I’m not perfect.” Despite JANE DOE III’s clear disapproval, the unwelcome complements kept coming.

Gothard gave Jane Doe III his credit card to buy new clothes and had his assistant tell her that he was unhappy that her skirts were ankle length rather than calf length.

364. After ten days, JANE DOE III and her mother decided to leave. After Gothard tried another failed attempt to convince JANE DOE III’s mother to separate from / divorce her husband, Gothard attempted to have JANE DOE III stay by trying to get her to say that her mother was abusing her. Gothard asked: “How old are you again?” When JANE DOE III said: “18,” Gothard replied: “Well, if you were 17 we wouldn’t even be having this conversation, because I would call up DFS immediately and tell them you are being abused and have you taken away from home. After all, emotional stress is just as bad as physical abuse.”

In 2012, both Jane Doe III and her mother wrote about their experiences in comments on the Recovering Grace website. Gothard saw the posts and personally contacted Jane Doe III, verbally besetting her and accusing her of being a liar and of “trying to viciously destroy his life’s work and his entire organization.” Gothard continued to harass and verbally assault Jane Doe III until she removed her comments.

In 2014, Jane Doe III contacted IBLP headquarters hoping to talk to the IBLP Board of Directors about what had happened, but she was refused access. She managed to get in contact with the director of ATI, who told her the Christian Legal Association (CLA), which was conducting a review of the accusations, would be in contact with her. When she failed to hear from CLA, she contacted the group directly, leaving a detailed message. She never received a return call.

Jamie Deering

Jamie Deering was involved in IBLP’s ATI program beginning in 1992. In 1994, when she was 14, Gothard personally invited her to come to headquarters. Jamie’s story is much like those of Rachel Frost and Rachel Lees, with one exception. During a trip to Russia, something “very bad” occurred in the middle of the night that left Jamie sleeping on the couch in another couple’s room and led to Gothard being sent home. Jamie has not recovered full memory of the event, and has other memory gaps as well.

Beyond this, her experiences mirror those of other girls sexually abused by Gothard during these same years, with the same process of groom and the same “pet” status.

404. Gothard went so far as to make sure Ms. Deering’s bedroom was directly across form his office window, so he would know when she could come to his office, after everyone else had left.

. . .

407. As part of his sexual abuse of Ms. Deering, Gothard would tell her where to sit. Gothard would then sit across from her, with his legs spread wide apart. Gothard would frequently have an erection and he wanted Ms. Deering to know it.

408. On airplanes Gothard would have Ms. Deering sit next to him, and—under a blanket—he would touch her thighs and her hand. Ms. Deering was very uncomfortable with this and was afraid people would know what was occurring.

. . .

412. On one occasion, Gothard required Ms. Deering to touch his groin area on top of his clothing.

. . .

414. As a result of the special treatment and physical attention she received from Gothard, Ms. Deering was referred to as Gothard’s “pet,” his “type,” his “favorite,” or a “Gothard girl.” The sexual harassment and special attention were no secret. Gothard’s conduct was common knowledge to the IBLP staff.

At one point when Jamie was back at home, her father physically abused her. At a loss for what to do, Jamie called Gothard for help. Gothard refused to help in any way and did not report the incident to the authorities.

Ruth Copley Burger

Ruth is the adopted daughter of Kenneth Copley and lived at the Indianapolis Training Center from 1994 to 1995. Her father had already been forced out of a previous ministry due to sexual misconduct, and was forced to leave IBLP in 1995 due to “sexual misconduct involving other IBLP staff in the age range of 14 to 20 years old.” In 1994, when Ruth was 11 or 12 years old, Copley began sexually abusing Ruth. Copley used the IBLP facilities to conduct this abuse, which I will not describe.

Ruth has suffered PTSD and has been suicidal on multiple occasions, leading to two hospitalizations, as a result of the abuse she faced at the hands of her adoptive father. Ruth published an account of her abuse in 2010 or 2011 and added more details in 2012. Her allegations came to the attention of the IBLP Board of Directors, and were badly mishandled during the sham 2014 CLA investigation.


Over the past two years, multiple Gothard defenders have asked why, if all of this did happen, no one had had attempted a lawsuit. It’s ironic, really, because these are the same people who argue that Christians should not sue Christians, and should instead settle disputes within the church, and here the were, using the lack of a lawsuit as proof that there was nothing to the allegations. There were, of course, multiple barriers to starting a lawsuit, including the statute of limitations and the personal costs involved in doing so.

Still, I am glad to see that there is now a lawsuit, and I would like to hope that it will help put remaining objections to rest, bring justice for survivors, and save future young people from similar predation. I’ve said it before and I know I’ll say it again—evangelical Christians need to clean up their act when it comes to abuse. Between blaming victims for what happened to them, elevating religious leaders beyond question, and sweeping problems under the rug because they might detract from an organization’s “godly witness,” there are some serious problems that need addressing.

We can only hope that this lawsuit will prod others to clean their houses.

A Mixed Bag: Salome’s Story

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

My experience going from homeschooling to college has been a mixed bag… but one I wouldn’t change for the world, no matter how shitty it was at the time. I have grown a lot and become a lot more normal, and rejected much of the legalism and hard conservatism of my youth, and all at a conservative Christian college which most people find restrictive!

I found enormous freedom (although I’m really careful about what I share with Student Life), and have become a moderate Republican (although if you were to ask the people I hung out with in my conservative activist days, I’m sure they’d call me a RINO, a flaming liberal bitch, and/or an idiot) and a feminist. I’ve found that there are actually a lot of people at my school (the administration of which prides itself in producing conservative culture warriors lol).

Thankfully, it’s usually safe to ask questions and come to my own conclusions among the professors. I even confessed to a couple of my professors that I’m not sure I believe in God anymore. I’ve become a lot more moderate, so I actually love my school and find myself defending a lot of the stuff it does. By the way, I still attend this school, so my knowledge of its culture and expectations are up to date. 🙂

I should also note that I’m really glad that I went to a small Christian school. Almost all of my professors know me by name. Several have put in long extra hours to get me to understand the subject matter, and are always willing to talk about non-academic stuff. Several have become friends and confidantes who’ve gotten me through really dark days. One has helped me manage my depression (because it’s unsafe to go to the school-sanctioned counseling or to Student Life) and has kept me after class to make sure that I weathered the panic attack that was clawing its way through my gut. He has checked up on me several times to make sure that I’m not suicidal.

Another helped me strategize how best to handle the sexual harassment I found myself woefully unprepared for in a culture which still asks women what they were wearing. When my anxiety and depression nearly paralyzed me, his office was a safe place where I could cry and swear and drink coffee with him. He has prayed for me a lot.

Another learned completely by chance about the recent death threats I’ve received, and has been praying with me (which… I mean. Even though I’m not sure I believe in God, that understanding and grace and prayer is so comforting). He has been talking through the Problem of Evil with me, and since he’s the philosophy prof, his answers are thoughtful and gracious. Yet another prof was a victim of one of the times that my pain exploded into rage, but he has forgiven me for losing my shit with him, and we still (carefully) joke and talk today. I look back fondly at the classes I took with him nowadays, and miss his quirkiness and dry sense of humor. I really don’t think that would have been met with so much grace at a normal school.

Anyway, I was homeschooled from 1st grade all the way through my high school graduation (although I managed to convince my mom to let me take a few classes at a Christian private school for my last two years of high school… which was a lifesaver omg). At first, my mom said that she wanted to homeschool us so that she could have more of an influence on us and spend more time with us than her mom did with her. As fucking creepy as that probably sounds to you all, I really can’t blame her, because her mom was a very emotionally absent single mom who’s tough as nails but hard and bitter. In the late 90’s, though, we started going to an evangelical church with a high concentration of homeschoolers. By 2000, my parents had made friends with these homeschoolers and had switched to religious reasons to homeschool us. They accepted the normal cocktail of homeschool ideology.

My homeschooling was spotty. I taught myself almost everything, which worked for most things, but I didn’t know how to write an essay until 8th grade when a homeschooling mom in my community realized that that was a major gap, but that I wasn’t stupid and undertook to teach me how to write. I still struggle with writing a lot. I don’t know why, but comma errors are my nemesis (which causes my poor professors pain when they read my papers). I also still struggle with basic arithmetic. But I have always read voraciously (and thus become friends with basically every librarian I meet), and trained myself to think critically and logically. I can spell better than almost everyone. My mind is full of trivia about science, history, and literature. I have always had this lust for truth, and have some measure of intuitive intellectual courage (when I bought a Qu’ran, I had to hide it for some time because my mom flipped out and thought that I’d convert and my dad threatened to burn it if he saw it… I read it, and have studied Islam, and still not Muslim. Interestingly, they also objected when I started hanging out with Presbyterians because they thought I’d become Presbyterian… which I eventually did to their dismay). I was woefully unprepared for the (very real) intellectual rigor of my college career, though, and my professors have spent long hours catching me up (because we technically don’t have remedial classes at my school).

I was the awkward, introverted homeschooler that nobody really understood or cared about. I was angry all the fucking time, and could blow up at anything. I had few friends. I had no sense of humor. I didn’t understand some basic hygiene (didn’t shower every day, and didn’t wash down south for several years because that made sense with the shame-based purity culture I grew up in, and my mom didn’t teach me how to clean myself, so yes, I stank and I stank bad). My view of sex was skewed, so I missed a lot of innuendo, which led to some awkward interactions. So I was really isolated. It’s hard to convey the horrendous pain and awkwardness and shame. I didn’t understand how to be good to people, because of the anger and violence which surrounded me at home. I’m still terrible at small talk. I get bored really quickly. It took me an embarrassing amount of time to learn how to listen. I always felt like I was out of sync everyone around me. I felt like a foreigner who was unable to communicate and remained unseen and unvalued.

I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time, but when I chose the school I did, I was running from my family. I had been fighting for some measure of freedom for years, and with every freedom I won for myself, my parents flipped out even more, although they would eventually chill after they figured out that I wasn’t a heathen – only to repeat the cycle of me asking, them flipping out, me doing whatever it was anyway, them crying and screaming at me, and then them chilling out until the next time I did something that wasn’t acceptable for a good homeschooled little girl.

My first semester in college was fucking amazing. I got thrown into a room with one of the officially closeted but obvious lesbians in the school and an alcoholic. I learned tolerance very, very quickly. They introduced me to secular pop music, gave me the courage to start swearing openly (only did it behind my parents’ back in high school, which didn’t go over well when I went home for the first several breaks), gave me honest feedback on how to dress (the alcoholic informed me that my favorite shirt made me look like a grandma and I wasn’t allowed to wear it anymore), and forced me to get my own email account and a facebook account (they literally ripped my computer out of my hands and made both accounts right in front of me). Oh, yeah, and the lesbian roommate sent me soft porn out of the blue (which scarred my poor little homeschooler soul).

Academically, I did well my first semester. I got all of the coolest professors, had all the subjects I find easy, and skated by on my natural intelligence. But my study methods sucked, and I didn’t know how to take good notes (I’m a lot better now, but I’m still working on that). I didn’t always know the most basic things about classroom etiquette. Deadlines are hard for me (even though I love having deadlines. Yes, I know how contradictory that is. Yes, I’m as confused about it as you are). I also found myself learning from good, godly men and women who disagree with me and disagree with each other. I started to correct some of the misconceptions about history that I had. I learned that America’s immigration system has a sordid, racist history. I remember that day really clearly, actually, because I was in my favorite class with my favorite professor (who’s a really sweet. And Ivy-league educated. And happens to be married to a Latina woman). In the midst of class he said that first generation immigrants tend not to integrate well into American culture, but that their kids learn English and learn how to integrate their ethnic backgrounds with American culture. He said that a lot of the conservative resistance to immigration was just racism and paranoia, and has been the same arguments for a really long time… and those arguments have been proven baseless time and time again.

The more I listened and the more I learned about history, the more I became convinced that much of what I grew up with was wrong. I figured out that my dad is extremely racist, and that I had unconsciously picked up some of his bias. I had never been consciously racist, and would have said that racism is wrong, but the more minorities I met and the more I studied history, I realized that I needed to uproot much of what I had thought beforehand. To be honest, I’m still learning how to listen to people whose experiences are different from mine.

I also found myself interacting with people whose theological backgrounds were different from mine. I remember very clearly the first conversation I had with the first Lutheran I met. He informed me that he doesn’t really sweat the doctrinal fine points, and really just participates. Back then I was really shocked and thought he was a heathen. Now, he’s one of my dearest friends.

There was a dark cloud gathering over that first semester, though. I found myself getting deeper and deeper into an emotionally abusive relationship (which I’ve written about previously on HA, so I won’t go into detail). It didn’t get unbearable until Christmas break and into the spring semester, but it was bad.

Then Christmas break hit. I flew home, and found myself at war with my parents. I had started dressing normally, painting my toenails, wearing makeup, swearing, going to a Presbyterian church, and had a head stuffed full of ideas. My parents were losing control and they were panicked. Every day was a battle. They screamed at me for hours (I’ve also written about that on HA), and threatened to disown me. Fortunately, they didn’t, but the threat was enough to make me careful about what I shared with them.

The next semester, I came back broken and fearful. My relationship with my boyfriend was souring as he tried to establish control and I resisted. The academic honeymoon period was over, and my lack of skills left me treading water. My GPA plummeted due to the controlling boyfriend and lack of study skills. I stopped going to church, lost a lot of friends, and found myself deeply depressed.

I realized eventually that I would literally debate anyone about anything that year, and it took me forever to learn how to have a respectful, chill, normal conversation about normal topics.

That summer, I had to fight my parents to go back. Part of it was that they didn’t want me to take out loans, and didn’t want to help me pay for it. I managed to scrape most of the tuition cost together, and convinced them to pay for the rest (god, I have more skills than people give me credit for…).

Sophomore year was super rough. Almost all of my classes were things I’m not good at, with boring professors and a shitload of reading due every class. My GPA died in a cold, dark hole and I’m STILL trying to resurrect it. I figured out that I have a really hard time trying in classes that don’t come naturally. I didn’t have any motivation to actually study.

Socially, my abusive relationship had fucked me up so badly that my old rage roared back to life with a vengeance, and I became known as a vicious person and it was best not to mess with me. I lost more friendships, and was miserable.

A couple of the friends I *did* have came out to me, though, and as there were more people I loved in the category of “gay people,” I found myself realizing that much of the way I had learned to talk about the LGBT community was horrible and homophobic. I’m so, so sorry for that. I don’t know if I will ever be able to forgive myself for the horrendous shit that came out of my mouth.

That year was also the year that I tried being an emotional support for one of my professors… I didn’t realize how inappropriate that was. I still cringe when I think about it.

Junior year was much the same academically. The same professor who taught me about the reality of racism also really gently told me that sometimes when I don’t understand an idea, I dismiss it impatiently as idiotic. That was a hard lesson to learn. I studied a lot of non-Western history that year, for which I’m really grateful. I also learned that I had been overly dogmatic and I needed to be more gracious with the people who disagree with me. I took and passed a survey of physics class just for the hell of it (and the sense of triumph was intoxicating). Since arithmetic is difficult, I had no idea I was capable of that… but I figured out that I have an intuitive grasp of physics.

The most important lessons I learned junior year were social lessons. I started making new friends. I’m forever grateful that they saw beneath how prickly I am and realized that my anger was because I’d been hurt so badly. It became a joke among my friends. They’d tell me not to murder anyone, and in turn gave me safe places to curl up when panic ripped through my gut. I became rather famous for my profanity-laden pep talks, and started receiving requests for them fairly regularly. I started going to a new church and everyone there was nice to me (and still are). Some alumni from my school go there too, and they invited me into their home. I find my broken soul healing every time I’m with them. I watch them parent their girls in a delightfully non-gendered and gentle way. They interact with each other gently and with mutual respect. The man does housework and helps make dinner. They’re also delightfully nerdy. It’s comforting to know that it’s possible to recover from our backgrounds and become good people and capable adults. I met Christians who drink and swear (which gave me the courage to inform my parents on my 21st birthday that I was drinking and they could either come celebrate with me and make sure I consumed responsibly, or I could drink – and drive – alone and possibly die in a car accident… they couldn’t really argue with that logic, so we went out to dinner at my favorite restaurant and I had a drink with dinner and we had fun). I know now what unconditional love looks like. During a particularly bad panic attack, my favorite professor really gently looked at me and told me that I didn’t have to be good to be worth loving and worth living.

I also became the victim of sustained sexual harassment from two different supervisors at my job on campus (yes, at a fucking Christian school). I was woefully unprepared. I didn’t know that harassment was illegal. I didn’t know that much of the minor stuff that I considered creepy but normal was actually harassment and grounds for getting the bastards fired. I had to learn about sex online so that I knew what my supervisors were talking about and how to protect myself (which is why I’m a feminist and a passionate advocate for sex ed.). When I finally did come forward, the manager had zero rhyme or reason for her reaction. She fired the one guy, but the other is still working there now and I have to see him every day.

This was also the year that I started trying to work on my anger. I realized that lashing out and hurting people because I hurt is wrong. I think that’s why my mom was so screwed up. She took all her grief and rage and insecurities from her own childhood and took it out on us. That’s not the person I want to be. I know I can be a monster, but I can also break the chains of my childhood.

I also went from trying to be “normal” to allowing myself to be unapologetically smart and nerdy… because I know the difference now between being a tiny little homeschooler who didn’t understand and was afraid of the world around her to being able to come up with my own special variation on normalcy. And that’s okay. I don’t have to look like everyone else… but I don’t have to fit myself into the restrictive categories I was taught as a girl.

I still struggle with a lot. I know that I get really emotionally invested in my schoolwork. I kinda spill emotional pain all over random people sometimes. I tend to overshare (which is a pretty common problem with homeschoolers in my experience) with professors I trust without even realizing that that’s what I’m doing. I’m still learning about healthy ways to resolve conflict. I’m actively trying to undo a lifetime of learned racism.

I do have friends of other ethnicities, sexual orientations, and outside the gender binary, now. I have a go-to alcoholic drink (but I still experiment sometimes), and know how to drink responsibly. I can have an intelligent conversation about multiple religions. I’m learning how to listen and show mercy instead of hysterically wringing my hands about the fall of American civilization all the time (BTW, in case you’re wondering, pretty sure American civilization isn’t going to fall because of gay people being able to marry).

I do have advice and suggested reading:

  1. Understand where people are coming from and exercise charity. If you look at 1 Corinthians 13 and your reaction doesn’t look like that, it’s not charity. Don’t be combative… people aren’t usually trying to destroy your faith. There is no vast left-wing bogeyman conspiracy.
  2. Read up on philosophical Pragmatism. American culture is more or less pragmatic, and that will help you understand your culture.
  3. I recommend dipping your foot in little by little to avoid culture shock. Don’t start out reading Richard Dawkins or Ayn Rand (I suggest using Ayn Rand to roast marshmallows, actually).
  4. Read Martin Luther’s “On Christian Liberty.” It was instrumental in teaching me how to distinguish between the legalism I grew up with and real Christian liberty.
  5. It’s okay to doubt your faith. God’s a big boy. He can take it.
  6. If you grew up evangelical, I suggest reading D.G. Hart’s book, “That Old-Time Religion in Modern America: Evangelical Protestantism in the Twentieth Century.” It’s a really good intellectual criticism of evangelicalism, and I believe that Hart is a Christian, which will make it easier to swallow if your parents flip out as much as mine. Even if you remain evangelical, you should read this to challenge yourself and see weaknesses in your beliefs.
  7. Related: if your beliefs can’t stand up under criticism, they’re really shallow and probably not worth holding.
  8. I also recommend Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.” Kuhn is not a Christian, but this book is really wise anyway, and there’s plenty to glean from it. Actually, literally everyone should read this book… not just homeschool graduates.
  9. Read secular poets and novelists. The current poet laureate is pretty amazing. Read John Le Carre and Daniel Silva. Also, don’t be afraid of non-Western writers. I have less experience there, so I can’t be of help. Experiment a little.
  10. Music does not have to be explicitly about Jesus to be okay to listen to. Our parents came out of the heyday of rock-as-rebellion in the 1960’s-1980’s, so they’re a little paranoid.
  11. David Barton and the authors of The Light and the Glory are bad historians who allow their agendas to corrupt their responsibility to tell the truth. Source: I’m majoring in American History, and I looked into their books and there are soooooo many glaring errors. Don’t do it. Just don’t. If you want a really good Christian historian, look up Mark Noll or Steven Keillor. Mary Habeck is also an amazing historian who writes and lectures about Islamic extremism (and is a world class military historian). If you need further advice on how to choose a reputable source, look at their credentials and the publisher, as well as where they teach.
  12. Read C.S. Lewis’ book “A Grief Observed” if you’re going through enormous pain or loss. I cried the whole damn time but felt better afterwards.
  13. It’s okay to google stuff. It took me a freakishly long time to figure that out.
  14. It is never EVER your fault if you are the victim of harassment, bullying, rape, or abuse. I don’t care what you were wearing or whether you were drunk. You share NO culpability for someone else’s sin.
  15. Recognize the warning signs of an abusive relationship and get the hell out if you see them, but be careful while doing so. You can’t change them or save them. Love doesn’t look like manipulation, control, or isolation. Trust your gut.
  16. Don’t let your anger run your life. Find a balance between anger and mercy toward the people you’re angry at. Don’t demonize people because they’re still people, even if you disagree with them. Also, demonizing people historically doesn’t end well.
  17. Normalcy and happiness are possible. You aren’t trapped. Discover. Travel. Dance. Sing. Eat good food and drink booze (legally, of course. Don’t be a fucking idiot).
  18. Finally, you’re worth loving and you’re worth living. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.  

How I Survived Homeschooling in Bill Gothard’s Cult: Part Three

CC image courtesy of Flickr, Norbert Posselt.

HA Note: The following is reprinted with permission from Alexa Meyer’s blog Life of Grace and Peace. It was originally published on June 26, 2015 and has been slightly modified for HA.


In this seriesPart One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Conclusion


Part Three

My dad was on cloud nine that I had been invited personally by Bill to HQ, but I was never asked, only told it was a great privilege.

I asked not to go, that something about it wasn’t right.

My parents only replied that I “didn’t know what I was talking about and this would open doors of great opportunities for me.” So shortly after I turned 16 I headed off to Chicago via a plane ticket bought by Bill or IBLP, about mid-September, for a two month visit.

It was a little nerve racking flying alone not knowing what to expect when I got there. I stayed in the house directly across the street from the main building and worked in the kitchen below Bill’s and the administrative offices. In fact, as you step out the front door of the house, you’re facing Bill’s office windows. The girls seemed like most other girls I’d ever met – polite with that underlying bite that criticism and legalism breeds in people. I didn’t click with anyone there, but I didn’t expect to as my life experiences up to that point had taught me that it was better not to get too much involved with others since I wouldn’t be there long. I was shown around and introduced to my housemates, the house rules being explained to me first thing. Most of the rules were practical and made sense – pick up after yourself, do your chore rotation (dishes, bathroom, etc.), curfew. Then there were ones that I felt were silly and none of their business. Like when I was to have quiet time (Bible reading), the fact that quiet time was required, get up and do “Wisdom” Searches as a group (6am!!), what music I could listen to and when, was my wardrobe right ( I could only wear loose sweat pants in the house [but must run and hide if a male came to the door] and never jeans at any time [seriously?!], no dating (as if I even wanted to!).

After about a week and a half I put in my music from home (just church stuff), closed the bedroom door (my roommate was out) and played the music softly. After a bit the house mom, who was only about 4 years older than me, came in and told me I couldn’t listen to it, remember the house rules. I replied that yes, I knew the rules, but my parents okayed my music. Well, I was just going to have to turn it off, and she would take it from me if I did it again. I was reported to Bill and called into his office the next day. When I went in we were alone and he motioned me to sit on his couch, where he sat facing me, his knees close to mine. He told me I was called in about the music, and my house mom thought I didn’t respect her and the rules. I said I respected her position and had been following the rules, but that my parents were my authority and had approved my music.

He leaned toward me, his knee making contact with mine (I tried to scoot back from him), earnestly looking into my eyes, and told me that I misunderstood my position.

That while at HQ my parents had put me under his authority and I was to follow the rules and his guidance. He picked up my hands, which had been resting in my lap, and went on about the evils of music that used drums and beats of any sort. I needed to search my heart and root out any sin and evil influences, so that I would see the will of God. Still holding my hands, he told me to pray, ask for forgiveness and help in searching my heart. I was also to commit to not listen to any music with a beat of any kind. Since my father taught me well most of my life the “umbrella of protection” through the “chain of command”, this was normal for me. However chastened I felt, I was also confused by feeling dirty and guilty of something I couldn’t understand or explain. So after drying my tears (he loves to make you cry-shows real repentance evidently), he stands up pulling me to my feet and hugs me front to front. (I mention this because I never, even without my parents’ teaching, hugged a male that way- only from the side.) This made me feel uncomfortable.

Later, away from him, I was upset that he would dare to take the place of my dad and dictate what I could and couldn’t do. My parents never told me I was under Bill’s “authority”, only to be respectful and remember our family rules. I complied outwardly but secretly continued to live as I would have at home. Towards the end of my time there, I listened to my music whenever I wanted to. My thought was, what’s the worst they can do? Send me home? Great! I wished they would!

A few days later I was called into Bill’s office. He told me I was to go on the first ever trip to Russia in October. I said I wasn’t qualified to go, nor did my family have the money for it. He called my parents to give them the “good” news. He told them that he would pay to send me to Northwoods for the Medical Seminar training I needed, that they would have to raise the money for the trip to Russia. They thanked him and then asked to speak to me. When they asked me if I wanted to go, I answered, “I guess so, maybe. I don’t know.” I was certainly feeling pressure with Bill sitting there listening to every word I said. They thought it was a good opportunity for me and that I should go. My mom did say that they wouldn’t make me and the church might not support me with the money, so in the end I might not be able to go. So I said okay. My parents went to our church asking for help, which I hoped wouldn’t be enough. It almost wasn’t – I found out from Bill the money came through three days before the trip was scheduled to leave.

In the meantime, I worked in the kitchen. One night around 8:30pm or so about two weeks after arriving, Bill called me up to his office. I used the back staircase to get there, since it let out in an area right outside his door. I went in wondering what he could want at this late hour.

Once again he was alone.

He asked me to make him a chocolate milkshake. So I head back down thinking I didn’t even know there was a milkshake maker, and I sure didn’t know how to make one. A couple of us kitchen staff were still there so I asked them about it. They showed me where everything was and how to use it. I told them I thought it strange that he asked me, why didn’t he ask the guy that was still there. They just shrugged their shoulders and said he’d asked for me. So I took it up. He asked what took me so long. I answered that it was my first milkshake. After he tried it, he smiled and told me it was one of the best he’d had in a while, I was from now on to make his milkshakes. I smiled and said okay. We chatted a little before I was dismissed. As I walked back to the kitchen all I could think was, really?!, now I’m stuck waiting on him every night! The whole thing seemed kooky to me, it was just a milkshake and anyone could make it, why me?

Soon it was time to head up to Northwoods for the “training” week I needed to qualify to go to Russia. I was surprised to find myself riding with Bill’s entourage and dismayed to be seated next to him on the bench seat behind the driver. He made small talk with me – was I enjoying my time at HQ, working in the kitchen, had I made any friends, etc. I answered politely and what I thought he wanted to hear. In general, I felt slightly uncomfortable and was annoyed that I had to ride with him. Why did I have to sit next to him?

It reminded me of how I would feel sitting next to my dad – I kept expecting Bill to put his hand on my knee at any moment.

At some point Bill took off his shoes and encouraged me to do the same. I gladly took them off, since I’m used to not wearing shoes whenever I can. Shortly after, I felt his foot on my ankle. I quickly pulled my feet away and to the side, looking over at him. He was smiling at me. I said “Pardon me”, and tried to put distance between us. Yuck was the word running through my head, and I couldn’t wait to get out of the van. A part of me wondered if I’d misunderstood – maybe his foot accidentally hit me. Even so, I made sure to keep my body as much to myself as possible. I was enormously relieved when we arrived.

I don’t remember very much about what was taught that week, except that it was more of the same stuff in the “Wisdom” Booklets. I learned how to play the bells, which I enjoyed. Occasionally Bill had me sit across or next to him when we gathered to eat. I learned quickly to sit with my feet tucked securely away from him and my chair moved away as far as possible. He would also sometimes stop me when we were passing and chat with me, doing the usual hand holding and looking into my eyes.

There was one incident that stands out to me particularly. At some point towards the end of the week, we had an afternoon session where we were instructed to examine ourselves and find any sin that would hinder us from helping others. We were told this sin could be unkind thoughts, lust of the eyes, too much “worldly” influence (i.e. music with a beat, wrong clothes, spending time with the wrong people-anyone outside the group or who lived life differently and wouldn’t accept “God’s truths” as taught by IBLP/ATIA), stepping outside of your father’s authority, etc. So after the soul searching time, I wrote down a few “sins” I thought qualified. I felt very repentant about them and talked with God about it.

Later that night, around 8pm or so, I was surprised to be summoned by Bill to his suite. He invited me to sit by him, which I did but kept some space between us. He asked how my day went, how did my time searching for hidden sins/distractions go, was I ready to confess, that he wanted to help me come clean. I shared a few of the “sins” (which I can’t even remember now) but he kept pushing for more. Finally I reluctantly shared a “sin” that I thought would stay between God and me. I didn’t think it was any of his business, but I had been well trained to submit to “authority”. After dragging as many details as he could get from me, he told me that he was going to call my parents so I could confess to them and ask forgiveness. So he calls them and sits there listening, as I embarrass and humiliate myself even more. My parents didn’t seem to find it strange, wrong, or humiliating that Bill was talking about this with me. They acted as though I was making “progress”.

I just felt guilty, ashamed, humiliated and somewhat violated over something that I felt was between God and me and didn’t hurt or involve anyone else.

I was made to feel dirty and sinful over something that I later found out in counseling (with a woman) was very common and nothing to be ashamed or feel dirty about – masturbation.

So my parents “forgive” me and, under Bill’s direction, I commit to staying clean. Really, I’m amazed that I emerged with any healthy, normal outlook on sexuality! After the call, I dried my tears and stood up to go. Bill hugs me, telling me I’ve done the right thing and I’ll be blessed for it. It felt awful, was what I thought. I wanted to go home and curl up into a ball and never show my face again. I felt hurt, confused, exhausted, etc. and wanted it all to go away. Shortly after, we headed back to HQ, and this time I made sure to sit in the back of the van!

The milkshake times continued to happen a few times per week until it was time for the Russia trip. On the planes I generally had a seat in the back, which suited me fine. At some point on the Russian plane (we called it Aroflop, it rattled so badly) Bill’s male assistant came to me and said Bill wanted me to come see him. Thinking “what is it this time?”, I walk up to where he was seated, smiled and said, “Sir, you wanted to see me for something?” He patted the empty seat next to him and said he wanted to check on me. I sat down and answered his questions – how was I doing, was I looking forward to ministering in Russia, etc. I stayed as shortly as I could, giving an excuse to go back to my seat. Frankly I was bored and didn’t appreciate being singled out. I couldn’t understand how any young lady could be jealous of a 56(+) year old’s attention. I don’t remember much else happening outside of the usual with him. I tried to draw as little attention as possible to myself.

Bill Gothard Unveils “New Statement” Then Promptly Deletes It

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Yesterday Bill Gothard, the disgraced former leader of IBLP and ATI, unveiled a revamped website with some new additions. And then promptly deleted them.

The new editions to this website were notable: First, a page of “blocked” testimonials appeared. These testimonials from former IBLP/ATI alumni were allegedly “blocked” from a unnamed website (which is obviously Recovering Grace) because they portrayed Gothard in a positive light. Second, Gothard published a “New Statement” about the sexual abuse and harassment allegations against him. An image of the “New Statement” as shared on Facebook is as follows:

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Gothard had previously released a statement in on April 17, 2014 (archived as a PDF here), about the allegations where he agreed that his “actions of holding of hands, hugs, and touching of feet or hair with young ladies crossed the boundaries of discretion and were wrong.” But in yesterday’s new statement, Gothard dismissed the allegations entirely as “false” and chalked them up to jealousy on the part of victimized girls.

Unfortunately, as quickly as the new website and its additions went up, they disappeared. Fortunately, we preserved a screenshot of his “blocked” testimonials link:

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Text is:


Helen was involved with the Institute from 1992 to 2002. When she saw the anonymous testimonies of other young ladies that had been at the Headquarters she was eager to post her story. However it was blocked by those who were in charge of the web site. Hundreds of other testimonials like Helen’s have been received over the years. A sampling are now being posted.

We also preserved the text of his “new statement,” which follows below:

After 15 months of seeking God’s wisdom, listening to many individuals, and earnestly praying for God’s understanding, Important factors have come into focus.

About two years ago certain former staff members began posting stories about being offended while they were at the headquarters. The initial reports were anonymous and what had happened took place over 20 years ago. I knew that the basic allegations were false. I even had letters of gratefulness from some of those who posted their stories, yet they had been offended. What was the root cause of my offense toward them?

A Cause for Which to Live and Die

It recently came to light that part of the problem actually began as a result of a decision I made as a teenager. I had just read Fox’s Book of Martyrs. It had a deep impact on me as I read the accounts of those who had died for their faith. Suddenly, I sensed God was asking me, “Bill, will you also die for me?” I considered what this would mean and then said, “Lord, right now I purpose to live and die for you.”

A Race Against Time

Something happened within me when I made that commitment. I experienced a new sense of energy, freedom and motivation. I pictured myself in a race against time. My concern was, “how much can I get done for the Lord before I die?” In the years that followed, I initiated many programs to reach young people.

Soon my “normal day” began at 4 am and went until 11 pm. When I continued this schedule with the Institute staff, it became a cause of offense to several who worked closely with me. At times they felt overworked and that they could not fulfill the expectations I had of them. In retrospect I was insensitive to their personal needs and their desire for a normal schedule. One young man said, “When you gave me a beginning time for work but no cutoff time for the day, I got discouraged, apathetic and weary.”

Meanwhile, I would be energized by my counseling sessions. Each young person at the Headquarters was there because either their parents had asked me to work with them, or I saw special potential in them to be effective for the Lord. When I would counsel a young lady I would need to find out what her problems were, but I avoided specific details of her actual wrongdoing. In affirming these young ladies a bond was established,that in some cases was different than I had intended.

Many of these young ladies told me that I was their “spiritual father.” I accepted this position with joy and delight. Even today, many remind me of this status with them. However, when I felt that a young lady was spiritually strong I began to work with another one. The first one would feel neglected and in some cases rejected. This was hurtful to them.

A Cause of Offenses

Several other problems also developed for which I am fully responsible and deeply repentant. Not only did I cause some ladies to feel rejected, but other fellows and ladies who did not receive that attention saw it as favoritism and felt that they could never measure up. This was very wrong on my part. Others saw it as a double standard.

When people would talk to me about my actions, I would quickly evaluate their concerns and if I determined that they were not important, I dismissed them. This was also very wrong because Scripture states, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Many times when someone talked to me I was easily distracted or tired. Other times I would put writing materials or working for the Lord before my relationship with the staff. People are more important than projects.

A few years ago, I was accused of having selfish motives for inviting young ladies to the Headquarters. I knew this was not true. However, those who believed these reports relived their Headquarters experience through these false presuppositions and were deeply offended. As a result many inacurate statements have been made that are not true. God is my witness that I have never kissed a girl, nor touched any young lady in a sensual way. I have acknowledged my faults and have asked forgiveness for them.

Ongoing Reconciliation

I do understand in a much deeper way how these young ladies feel and how my insensitivity caused them to feel the way they do. I have deeply repented before the Lord for offending some of the very ones that I have dedicated my life to serve. I do want to continue pursuing reconciliation in a Biblical way.

This means that when I remember somebody whom I have offended, I will contact them directly and ask for their forgiveness. On the other hand, I am praying that those whom I have offended and I am not aware of, will contact me and allow me to confess my faults and ask for their forgiveness. I do humbly and sincerely ask each one of you whom I have offended and caused to be disillusioned to forgive me. My email adress is:

The original url of the “New Statement” was

Update, June 3, 2015, 11:55 am Pacific time: Recovering Grace has responded to Gothard’s attack regarding the allegedly “blocked” testimonial by Helen. Their response is as follows:

One thing that we would like to briefly address is the accusation posted that we “blocked” a story of someone who wished to support Bill Gothard. Our policy from day one has been to never block a dissenting viewpoint unless it is abusive, profane, or consistently unkind. In the case of Helen, her story came in the form of a comment on one of our articles. This comment was approved and remains on our site until this day. It can be viewed here.

Recovering Grace has also made available screenshots of the now-deleted new website and statement. We have copied them below. Click each image to view in full size:

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“Everyone is Forgiving”: Bill Gothard’s Bold-Faced Lies

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Jeri Lofland blogs at Heresy in the Heartland. The following was originally published by Jeri on July 3, 2014 with the title “When Apologies Make It Worse,” and is reprinted with permission.

Since Bill Gothard had to resign from leading his Institute in Basic Life Principles amid allegations of inappropriate behavior toward female staffers, he has made few public statements. But in private, he has been far from silent.

An article published last week by Mother Jones stated:

These days, Gothard says, he is busy “contacting people I’ve offended and asking them to forgive me.” Asked how this process is going, he chirpily replies, “Wonderful. People are very grateful and everyone is forgiving.”

However, some former IBLP staff members take issue with Gothard’s version of the facts. Gothard has made efforts to contact them, they say, and “grateful” was not a word that came to mind.

One woman, who has had contact with Gothard since his resignation from IBLP, dismissed his attempted “apologies” as unethical and disingenuous. As this woman has requested anonymity, I will refer to her here as “Sally”. After her story was published on the website Recovering GraceGothard sought to engage Sally in an email correspondence. She has given me permission to share the content of those emails here. Gothard did not reply to the last message included below.



I was grateful for my talk with ***** and he told me of his contact with you. It would be an answer to prayer to be able to be reconciled with you and I would appreciate any direction you would have towards this goal.

Sincerely, Bill Gothard



As a starting point, I would like to know why you have resigned as president of IBLP?



Thank you, Sally, so much for your response. I resigned from the Institute because I have finally realized that relationships with the Lord and others are far more important than the work I do for Him. I have offended many individuals including you and it is my desire to be reconciled with as many as possible in the years to come.

Sincerely, Bill



You say that you have offended many individuals including myself.

I would like you to be specific regarding the manner in which you believe you have offended me.




I apologize for the delay in getting this message to you. For many years I have treasured the memories of the friendship that we had. I am praying that this can be restored. Some of my actions were inappropriate and offensive. Is it possible to hear your perspective on these wrong actions so that I can more precisely understand and acknowledge my fault and seek your forgiveness?

Sincerely, Bill



I should not have to explain to you what was “inappropriate and offensive” about your actions towards me. It is very wrong of you to ask me to recount them for you, and I do not intend to do so.

If you sincerely desire my forgiveness and you wish for reconciliation, then you need to acknowledge your offensive behavior in an honorable, fearless and truthful manner. If you are not willing to do this, then please do not contact me again.



Readers of the accounts on Recovering Grace will recall that Gothard commonly groomed his victims of sexual and/or emotional abuse by urging them to confide to him all the sexual details of previous relationships. It would appear from this series of emails that even at nearly eighty years old, he still takes a voyeuristic interest in hearing his victims describe the shame he sought to burden them with.

“He consistently asks the girl to tell him what it is she thinks he has done. Then he apologizes for ‘her perceived’ grievances. There is no ownership of his behavior. He’s putting it all back on the the victim.”

And once again, Gothard is breaking his own fundamental rules–this time for apologies. In his Basic Seminar textbook, he wrote a whole chapter on the right way to clear one’s conscience by asking forgiveness.

bsFor example, Gothard’s text points out:

It does little good to ask forgiveness for a small offense when in reality that offense is only a fractional part of a much greater offense.


There are several ways to ask forgiveness which are guaranteed not to work–such as, “I was wrong, but you were too”; “If I was wrong, please forgive me”; “I’m sorry”, etc. There is one genuine statement which reflects true sincerity and humility: “God has convicted me of how wrong I have been in (my attitude and actions). I know I have wronged you in this, and I’ve come to ask, will you forgive me?”

Carefully choose the right wording

  • Your words must identify the basic offense
  • Your words must reflect full repentance and sincere humility

 …One of the hardest statements for any person to make is, “I was wrong.” It is a lot easier to say, “I’m sorry about .. ” It is also much easier to say, “Please forgive me” than it is to ask, “Will you forgive me?” and wait for the answer.

Gothard then gives examples of wrong wording:

“If I’ve been wrong, please forgive me.”

And right wording:

“God has convicted me of how wrong I’ve been in ______ (Basic Offense). I’ve called to ask will you forgive me?”

This request, spoken in the right attitude, is certain to be well-accepted by the one to whom it is directed. This approach must include correction of any attitudes or actions which caused the offense and also restitution for any personal loss which was suffered by the one offended.

Oh, yes, restitution. Did you see that mentioned in the emails to Sally? No, I didn’t, either.

But let us go on. The seminar manual taught that one should not go into too much detail, and emphasized the principle with a verse from the New Testament:

In Scripture we are warned that, “It is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.” (Ephesians 5:12) This warning definitely applies when asking for forgiveness. It is neither important nor appropriate to review impure details of an offense. This only tends to stir up the mind of the hearer to the past. 

And yet Gothard needs more details so he can “more precisely understand and acknowledge” his fault? Hmmmm.

Of course Gothard wrote the seminar text long before email, but he recommends making apologies only by phone or in person, not by correspondence. I have highlighted some relevant points in Gothard’s explanation:

Please don’t write a letter. Most people are tempted to use this method because it is so easy and the least painful to their pride. But it is not effective for many reasons. First, it documents your past offenses and your purpose is to erase them. Second, a letter can be misused by the one receiving it. This only complicates the problem. Third, it often embarrasses the one receiving it, and they may never reply to it. Fourth, a letter doesn’t allow you to gain their verbal assurance of forgiveness. That is a very important factor for you and for the one you have offended. A verbal forgiveness allows him to become free of his bitterness.

Oh, yes, bitterness! So we ask forgiveness in order to help our victim “become free of his bitterness”? No wonder these women are frustrated!

Let me give you a tip, Bill. Forgiveness alone is not enough to erase your many offenses. And the women you used for your own sexual or emotional gratification are wiser and more self-protective now. This is not about restoring a friendship, it is about your manipulative abuse of your position.

“I am not trying to reconcile – I am trying to bring to attention a problem that has been ongoing for forty years. I forgive him, but I have no wish to reconcile with him.” 


Perhaps most interesting of all, though Gothard’s attorney friend-turned-investigator failed to contact any of the women who spoke out on the Recovering Grace website, Gothard himself is contacting them. He is even contacting other women who have not publicly spoken about their IBLP experiences but who were indeed mistreated by him. Would he possibly be working from memory here? And if his memory is that sharp, why would he need to ask for more details?

This is, after all, a man who taught millions exactly how to ask forgiveness for the offense of “Behaving improperly on a date“:

Wrong Confession: “I realize that I was wrong in necking with you on our date. Will you forgive me?” 

Right Confession: “I realize that I have been wrong in my selfish actions and attitudes toward you when we were dating. It would mean a great deal to me if you would forgive me. Would you forgive me?”

…be as brief and as clear as possible…. Talking too much will not only “sidetrack” the whole purpose of your coming, but may give the impression that you are trying to justify or explain your offenses in order to minimize them. 

You don’t say, Bill? You don’t say.

Bill Gothard Resigns from IBLP

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Bill Gothard resigned today from the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) and its affiliated organizations. 

Last month the IBLP board placed Gothard on administrative leave. According to a report by WORLD Magazine, the administrative leave would be in place “while the board investigates claims that he years ago engaged in sexual harassment and other misconduct.” Allegations and evidence have surfaced recently about how Bill Gothard has sexually harassed and molested over 30 young woman, including children, for decades. There are rumors that David Gibbs, Jr. — the former president of ACE who was the longtime attorney for convicted child abuser  Jack Schaap‘s church, First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana — was hired by the IBLP board to spearhead the investigation.

Today, however, David Waller — the Administrative Director of the Advanced Training Institute (ATI) — sent out an email to families involved with ATI and announced that Bill Gothard has resigned from the Institute in Basic Life Principles and all its affiliated organizations. Waller said that Gothard “communicated to the Board of Directors his desire to follow Matthew 5:23-24 and listen to those who have ‘ought against’ him.”

Waller did not state if Gothard planned to return to leadership at some point. He did say, however, that IBLP and ATI will continue as is. Their upcoming conferences in Big Sandy, Nashville, and Sacramento will be held as planned. The organization also “expects to appoint interim leadership for IBLP in the very near future.” Chris Hogan, ATI’s president, “will play an active role.”

You can view David Waller’s email in its entirety as a PDF here.

IBLP Board Places Bill Gothard on “Administrative Leave”

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

WORLD Magazine has just announced that Bill Gothard, founder of the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) and the Advanced Training Institute homeschool curriculum, was placed on “administrative leave” by IBLP’s board of directors.

Warren Cole Smith for WORLD stated this evening that Gothard will be on leave “while the board investigates claims that he years ago engaged in sexual harassment and other misconduct.” Allegations and evidence have surfaced recently about how Bill Gothard has sexually harassed and molested over 30 young woman, including children, for decades.

According to Smith, IBLP board chairman Billy Boring said that, “After completion of the review the board will respond at an appropriate time, and in a biblical manner.” Until the investigation is completed, however, Gothard will cease participation in “the operations of the ministry.”

As of 6:50 pm PST, IBLP’s website, Facebook, and Twitter have no statement on the matter.

A Shamed Sexuality: Gracie’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. “Gracie” is a pseudonym.

Trigger warnings: the following story contains descriptions of sexual harassment and emotional abuse relating to sexuality.


“Will you have sex with me?”

So much hung on that question. I was in love with him. I wanted to be with him more than I could put into words. I said yes before I could allow myself to really look at the situation.

My sex education was never given to me. My mother gave me “The Big Sex Talk” without ever explaining sex. It wasn’t till I was sixteen or seventeen, and had started going to public school, that I figured out was sex was and how women get pregnant. Seventeen. I would hear things from the kids at school, words or phrases I knew were vulgar, and I would slowly piece together their meanings. I didn’t know what birth control was or why you would ever need it. I spent my high school years hiding my lack of knowledge, discreetly looking up definitions online, trying not to look like the freak I felt I so obviously was.

I entered my first year of college as an emotionally and sexually repressed woman who felt nothing but shame from her body, a body that she knew little to nothing about. The results proved to be detrimental.

The first rude awakening came during a football game, in a busy stadium crowded by over 60,000 people. I was cornered by two large men who made sexual comments at me, tried to get me to sit with them, and groped and grabbed at me. It was all over in just a few moments and they disappeared into the crowd. I spent the next several days terrified that they would walk into the restaurant I worked in or run into me on campus. I had no one I could talk to about it. I was afraid to call my parents, afraid they’d make me come home.

So I bottled it up and labeled it with more shame.

I don’t know how many panics attacks I had that week.

Then came the boy. He was attractive, funny, adventurous, and had a way of making me drop everything for him. But he didn’t love me. In fact, he was verbally and emotionally manipulative and abusive. He would dangle his “love” over my head and after 9 months of following him around, I would have done anything to hear that he loved me.

I come from a large and chaotic household where emotions were never expressed. I can’t remember ever feeling loved or welcome at home. My high school boyfriend was so wrapped up in being the “good godly young man” and staying “pure-minded” that he broke up with me because he was afraid to find me attractive, lest I ruin his relationship with the Lord. Sex was never discussed. Sexuality might as well have been a curse word. The only thing I had ever felt sexually was shame.

But here he was, asking me to have sex with him. As my abuser so clearly explained, over a text message, he would be delighted to be my boyfriend, to love me, if I only agree to have sex with him.

And I said yes.

Then came that night; that horrible, horrific night. He looked at my undressed self and he turned away with disgust. Suddenly I was cheap he said. It was too easy to get me to sleep with him. Had I gained weight? Was I not taking care of myself?

I still hear his violent words running on a loop through my mind. Even though I walked away from everything that was connected to him or that year, I have found that walking away from those memories is almost impossible.

Therapy was the first time I was told that my having a desire to share an intimate and sexual relationship with the man I loved wasn’t a bad or shameful thing. It’s called having sexuality. Being a human. Every human has sexuality and I can’t fault myself for wanting to explore mine.

I wish that abstinence wasn’t taught so aggressively to me. I was trained to hide away my sexuality and never let anyone know it’s there. I was told that I was responsible if a boy around me “stumbled” and had an “impure thought.” That’s a lot of pressure and shame to put on a child. Now, as an adult, I’m having to teach myself to celebrate my sexuality and not shame myself in it. It’s a slow learning process.

Telling my story is helpful. Therapy is helpful. Naming my abuser for what he was is helpful. All of this is very painful, stressful, difficult, but very helpful.

And very hopeful.

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.