By Michal Ortner
The Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) is facing more controversy after five women came forward to sue the organization’s leadership for inappropriate encounters that they claim the board refuses to discuss with them. The lawsuit has been filed against IBLP and board members John Stancil, Anthony Burrus, Gil Bates, Timothy Levendusky, Stephen Paine, and David York.
These accusations have come after founder of IBLP, Bill Gothard, resigned for similarly being accused of touching and s*xually harassing at least 30 young women. The five women say that he is not the only guilty party and that s*xual assault is a common attribute of the IBLP staff.
The lawsuit states that the women experienced “sexual abuse, sexual harassment and inappropriate/unauthorized touching” while “participants, interns, or employees of IBLP.”
“These ladies did not want to end up in litigation,” their attorney, David Gibbs III, said. “(They wanted to) sit down, help work through issues with board … but the board chose to ignore the request of the ladies and handled it rather disastrously. They feel rather forced to bring forward litigation to protect others.”
The website, “Recovering Grace,” has continued to be the source of testimony against the IBLP. Women have posted their stories about their victimization since it was established last year.
“We at “Recovering Grace” have stated publicly for many months now that our hope and prayer was that Bill Gothard and the IBLP leadership would take responsibility for his/their actions, and that this situation could have been handled in a manner befitting an organization that claims the name of Christ,” the RG Leadership Team wrote on their website.
“As it stands now, we hope that this lawsuit indicates the seriousness of the allegations, and we continue to pray that this action will facilitate true repentance and justice that, so far, has not occurred,” the statement concluded.
“The more we dive in, the more unusual it becomes,” Gibbs stated. “One of the problems of total institutions (is) these victims have no place to turn. (They are) leaving an abusive home environment and have a person of trust over them (who will) isolate them, victimize them and then cover up victimization.”
“We wanted the board to step forward and do the right thing—at least talk to these ladies. It’s heartbreakingly sad and should never have ended up in court, but that’s where the IBLP people wanted it,” he added.