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Results of Bill Gothard Harassment Investigation Released

IBLP board decides seminar speaker acted inappropriately but not criminally.
Results of Bill Gothard Harassment Investigation ReleasedTwitter screenshot

A board investigation into allegations that Bill Gothard sexually harassed teen girls has concluded that the popular seminar speaker acted inappropriately but not criminally.

CT reported in March how Gothard resigned as president of his Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) after his board began investigating sexual harassment accusations from more than 30 women. IBLP said the 79-year-old, who drew 2.5 million people to his family-focused Basic Seminars but never married, explained that he "wanted to follow Matthew 5:23–24 and listen to those who have 'ought against' him."

In a statement released Tuesday (full text below), the IBLP board of directors said that Gothard's "shortcomings" do not discredit his past teaching but will prevent him from working for IBLP in a counseling, leadership, or board role "at this time." According to the statement:

At this point, based upon those willing to be interviewed, no criminal activity has been discovered. If it had been, it would have been reported to the proper authorities immediately, as it will be in the future if any such activity is revealed.

However, the review showed that Mr. Gothard has acted in an inappropriate manner, and the Board realizes the seriousness of his lack of discretion and failure to follow Christ's example of being blameless and above reproach.

Gothard told the Chicago Sun-Times he respects the board's decision.

"My number one goal right now ... is to go back to the ones that I have offended and ask their forgiveness," he said.

Gothard also told the Sun-Times that "sexual harassment is to a large extent intent, and my intent was never to harass them."

In an April statement, announced via Twitter, Gothard responded publicly to the allegations for the first time.

"My actions of holding of hands, hugs, and touching of feet or hair with young ladies crossed the boundaries of discretion and were wrong," Gothard wrote. "They demonstrated a double-standard and violated a trust. Because of the claims about me I do want to state that I have never kissed a girl nor have I touched a girl immorally or with sexual intent."

The IBLP board is still searching for a permanent president to lead the organization.

Here is the full IBLP statement:

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We are grateful for your prayers and patience as we have all walked through these difficult months. As Board members, each of us has been positively impacted by the relationships, teachings, and opportunities available through the Institute in Basic Life Principles. It is because of our appreciation for this ministry that we agreed to serve on the Board of Directors. We also recognize our duty as Board members, and we bring this statement with great heaviness of heart.

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.

At this point, based upon those willing to be interviewed, no criminal activity has been discovered. If it had been, it would have been reported to the proper authorities immediately, as it will be in the future if any such activity is revealed.

However, the review showed that Mr. Gothard has acted in an inappropriate manner, and the Board realizes the seriousness of his lack of discretion and failure to follow Christ's example of being blameless and above reproach. As a Christian leader, he is to avoid the appearance of evil (I Thessalonians 5:22), and he must have a good reputation, even with those outside the Church (I Timothy 3:7).

We believe God still desires to use Bill Gothard for His work in the Kingdom of God, but we also believe it is important that he be held to the high standards clearly taught in the Scriptures and upheld by this ministry. At this time the Board unanimously agrees that Mr. Gothard is not permitted to serve in any counseling, leadership, or Board role within the IBLP ministry.

We also know that the Word of God teaches that believers should have a good conscience toward God and men (Acts 24:16). We want to encourage reconciliation within families and are very supportive of efforts toward reconciliation with Mr. Gothard or with IBLP. The Board is asking that Mr. Gothard submit to and cooperate with a team of Christian leaders who will direct his reconciliation process.

The Board does not believe that Mr. Gothard's shortcomings discredit the truths of God's Word that were taught through him. All of us are reminded of our need to look to Jesus and to His Word "for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (II Timothy 3:16). We are committed to evaluating each part of the ministry on the basis of God's Word, and we encourage everyone to search the Scriptures to determine what is true, as did the Bereans (see Acts 17).

We look forward to doing all we can to advance the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and to strengthen the local Church. We dedicate ourselves to help build up families and individuals in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are seeking and praying for a new permanent president for the IBLP ministries. Please pray with us to this end.

Sincerely in Christ,

Board of Directors
Institute in Basic Life Principles

Posted:June 19, 2014 at 11:35AM
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Results of Bill Gothard Harassment Investigation Released