As many are aware, IBLP issued a statement titled A Time of Transition which was posted on June 17, 2014. In the statement we read:
In response to allegations against Bill Gothard, the Board sought the facts through a confidential and thorough review process conducted by outside legal counsel. Many people were interviewed, including former Board members, current and past staff members, current and past administrators, parents, and family members.
As I read the response something was glaringly missing. IBLP had earlier claimed they had “outside legal counsel” that would conduct a “thorough review process” but, did the “outside legal counsel,” David C. Gibbs Jr., interview the 37 women who had made their accusations by telling their stories on the Recovering Grace website? To our knowledge, none of them were contacted. This is a point which was also picked up and commented on by Recovering Grace in their Our Response to the IBLP Board Statement :
There is no mention of interviewing the victims themselves, those who have already spoken publicly of their harassment and abuse. We believe that this statement has essentially re-victimized these women by negligently and publicly demonstrating that, in the Board’s eyes, they are of no consequence in this discussion. To our knowledge, none of the women who have published their stories on Recovering Grace were personally approached for their statement in the IBLP investigation.
The issues at hand are actually bigger than is readily apparent at first blush. I am going to digress to an unrelated story but there is a correlation that I think is important. Victor Davis Hanson recently did a piece titled “The Decline of Western Civilization in a Few Paragraphs.” It is about a woman, Perla Ibeth Vazquez, who is currently on trial for killing Frank Winslow, a 54-year-old “family man and truck driver for Foster Farms who was only a few miles from home when he was killed on Highway 168 near Ashlan Avenue.” She was drunk at the time. The article is a sad recounting of the times Vazquez was stopped for drunk driving and in court warned by judges (that’s right, more than one judge) that she would one day kill someone while driving drunk and after little more than a finger wag she was released. Her attorney argues that it is not her fault she is driving drunk, he contends she was molested by a babysitter as a child and did not feel loved by her step-father. As Hansen progresses on with the history of Vazquez he comments:
So here is her defense against the charge of vehicular murder: She had a job once. Apparently, being employed is now not normally expected, but so aberrant to the degree that it counts as a plus in our current culture where millions have ceased working. Then we hear that she is an alcoholic. But what does “is an alcoholic” mean versus “drinks whenever she wishes and gets into a car”? Apparently that fact of drinking alcohol to excess is not a personal pathology for which she is morally culpable, but more an “addiction.” But it is not even an addiction, given that she was not responsible for drinking herself into a stupor, getting into a car, and serially speeding, knocking cars about as she went. Note: I forgot to mention that she was facing still more pending charges and apparently out on bail at the very moment when she killed Mr. Winslow.
The point of Hanson’s excellent analysis of our current state of affairs as a civilization is that no one seemed to care enough about Vazquez or those whom she would harm to hold her accountable. The judges, attorneys and others have culpability in the needless and senseless death of Frank Winslow. Bill Gothard has been aided and abetted by Christian leaders for over 3 decades. When the sex scandal erupted into public view in the early 1980s, Charles Stanley, Bob Jones III and others flew in and went to IBLP headquarters in Oak Brook, IL to berate the IBLP staff for rebelling against Bill. So the one that was responsible for the scandal was protected and those who were working for repentance and restoration were dressed down. After Gothard resigned, the Board of Directors marginalized the evidence against Gothard and 17 days later he was reinstated as President. Those who sought to bring about repentance and correction were punished as staff was purged from the Institute. The church does not do well in bringing about biblical correction, repentance and restoration. Many view it as mean and so most often church leaders look the other way. Proverbs 27:6 says something rather interesting:
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
Realistically, if you care for someone you take the time to tell them hard things in an effort to help them avoid danger. In this you are actually doing them a tremendous spiritual favor by making them face up to their sins (2 Corinthians 7:8-12). If you care little, but derive some sort of benefit from being associated with them you say little. In such cases your so-called friendship is no better than the kisses of the enemy. So, here is a hard question which the Board of IBLP and other Christian leaders have to answer: is their silence and whitewashing of the current accusations from the 37 witnesses the equivalent of the kisses of an enemy? For they are clearly not the wounds of a friend. Like Perla Ibeth Vazquez, Bill Gothard has damaged and destroyed lives of those around him for a long time while those who could do something refused. No, he hasn’t killed anyone, but is spiritual destruction any less destruction? I don’t really have to answer these questions; the Board of IBLP does. They have a unique opportunity here. Will they love Bill or just keep up with the kisses?
Viewing it as an attorney, it appears that the Board’s statement says even less than Gothard said in his earlier statement acknowledging specific “inappropriate” behavior (i.e. touching females):
The Board did not state what allegations were investigated, so we cannot tell what they have actually adjudicated;
The Board does not say whether Gothard or the corporation was found to have violated any non-criminal law;
The Board does not say whether anyone was found to have sexually harassed employees (a civil, not criminal, violation of law) nor whether Gothard disputed that recurring public allegation relating to a series of his female personal assistants;
The Board does not say whether it agrees with Gothard that harassment requires specific intent to harass;
The Board may have found him guilty merely of touching one girl one time (“has acted”) in a careless manner that lacked discretion;
The Board does not acknowledge that there are any victims of the inappropriate behavior, let alone offer a corporate apology or any restitution;
The Board does not acknowledge whether or not witnesses testified to any criminal conduct, nor whether any criminal allegations were investigated, only that no criminal conduct was “discovered” (to paraphrase Congressman Trey Gowdy’s assertion to the IRS Commissioner in a public hearing this week: if you did not study what criminal laws applied, how could you possibly have thoroughly investigated whether any were violated!);
The Board does not opine whether Gothard was accurate in his public statement that he has NEVER touched a female with immoral or sexual intent;
The Board does not say whether Gothard received a hearing or offered witnesses in his behalf to counter the charge of inappropriate behavior;
The Board does not say whether Gothard waived any hearing or admitted all the findings;
The Board does not say whether Gothard agreed with the discipline or the ‘as of now’ timeframe of disqualification;
The Board does not say whether Gothard consented to its findings while NOT admitting to any of them (did he plead “nolo contendere”?);
If they allowed the investigator to act as prosecutor and judge, the Board does not present his credentials as an unbiased arbiter;
The Board does not state whether Gothard acknowledged all the errors that the investigator substantiated, so we are left to merely guess if the Board’s statement and Gothard’s earlier statement address the same conduct.
Through this well crafted ambiguity, IBLP can claim to have corporately acted on all past allegations and from now on ignore as redundant any further demands for action on those allegations. Yet, they are not bound as co-conspirators in covering up or excusing any specific allegations because they do not address or refute any specifics. The statement looks more like a corporate fig leaf than any true adjudication of any specific charges against the principal officer of the corporation. They know that it does not exonerate the corporation from liability for any injuries caused by the wrongdoer, but they also know that they have not admitted any such injuries and so can fully and aggressively contest any claims raised in a civil proceeding. For this reason, the Board’s statement does nothing but suspend Gothard’s corporate authority, something they have authority to do without any cause, and something that itself is meaningless in light of Gothard’s previous resignation.
Well said, Don.
To me, they might as well have said “If you want us, come and get us.”
This was a slap in the face to the victims and all those who care about this issue.
It’s a business. Plain and simple. They’re trying to protect the business.
Anyone associated with Gothard should run the other direction.
Parents of children who have been affected by his tripe should beg forgiveness from their children for twisting their reality and warping their perceptions of what life is, and who they are as people.
Gothard’s entire system is structured to insulate and excuse the abuses that it perpetrates upon these kids. Gothard’s “ministry” is probably best defined as a propaganda publishing house and brainwashing institute.
Don’t be serfs (literally), people. Use your brain. Be discerning. Be careful what you expose your children to. Question everything.
This is a cult, people. Treat it as such.
Most of the heat is on Bill and reasonably so, but let’s not forget the IBLP board (and maybe some staff) members who are just as guilty for letting such a thing happen.
It could be that if nothing was done, there need not be a response. It is your imagination, nothing else, that is accusing Bill Gothard or his Board of Directors.
Don Myers, did our imagination force his resignation? Did our imagination bring IBLP to disqualify him from ministry? Imagination is only involved because IBLP has not been transparent. As Gothard impressed on our children: be sure your sin will find you out. But our calling is to bring things out of darkness into light. Those concealing are not doing so. Exoneration is available if all the facts are revealed and exonerating.