Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Filed Against Homeschool Program With Ties to the Duggars

Another day with the Duggars, another scandal casting a shadow over their formally squeaky-clean image. It's been a rough year for the 19 Kids and Counting crew, and the latest news isn't exactly going to help them restore their reputation. The Christian group Institute in Basic Life Principles has been sued by five women who claim to have been sexually abused as minors.

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You'd think that for an organization with "basic life principles" in their name, they'd know a thing or two about how bad sexual molestation is. Ugh. The institute has prided itself since the '60s for providing resources for Christian parents to raise their children to be chaste and virtuous through their Advanced Training Institute. The Duggars have long been advocates of IBLP, and have used ATI curriculum to educate their 19 children.

Now would be a good time for them to publicly disavow themselves from the group, and Bill Gothard in particular. Gothard is the founder of the organization, and while he is not specifically named in the lawsuit, he resigned last year after more than 30 women alleged that he had sexually harassed them, some as young as 13 and 14 years old.

Of course everyone deserves their day in court, but it's not looking good for Gothard and Co. The five women who have filed suit -- Gretchen Wilkinson, Charis Barker, Rachel Frost, Rachel Lees, and a Jane Doe -- claim that the board of directors actually helped cover up sexual abuse and harassment of many involved in the program, including interns, employees, and participants.

The women seek $50,000 in damages each from IBLP, which I think is pretty darn paltry compared to what they had to overcome emotionally to even come forward about this. Women in a patriarchal subculture such as this are pretty much taught that they must depend on a man, and that if a man treats them badly, it is their duty to pray for that man so he will see the error of his ways and repent. To go up against the men in charge of this organization probably took more courage than most of us could fathom.

More from The Stir: Duggars Reveal the Drastic 'Safeguards' Used to Keep Girls Safe After Molestation

Anyway, the lawsuit was filed on Tuesday this week, in DuPage County Circuit Court in Illinois. The women claim that IBLP's employees and directors turned a blind eye to "frequently received reports" of sexual abuse, harassment, and inappropriate touching, and illegally never reported them to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

The attorney for the women, David Gibbs III, confirmed that they were reluctant to bring this case to court, but did so only as a last resort when they felt that the board basically challenged them to do something about the situation. Gibbs told the Washington Post that the board "is not operating in a spirit of transparency or openness."

I hope that anyone who has abused another person, especially a child, is brought to task, along with anyone who participated in letting it happen.

Meanwhile, it would probably be a good idea for the Duggars to make a statement along the lines of being horrified by this kind of alleged abuse, and saying they will do whatever it takes to help stop it.

 

Image via Duggar Family Official/Facebook

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