Duggar-Affiliated Cult Leader Bill Gothard’s Sexual Abuse Victims Speak Out
Joy Simmons and Jennifer Spurlock are two of the women who are currently suing Bill Gothard, former president of the Institute In Basic Life Principles, for sexual abuse. In a truly disturbing interview with New York Daily News, both women detail the way Gothard preyed on them as teens. As if that’s not awful enough to begin with, both women say they were rape survivors who came to Gothard for help.
In Spurlock’s case, when she was 15 years old, Gothard convinced her parents that she needed to stay at the IBLP center in Indiana for “counseling” in order to deal with her “sins” of having a boyfriend and playing sports. Said “counseling” was the same type of “counseling” Josh Duggar received after molesting his sisters–forced labor.
During her stay, Spurlock was raped by a man receiving “counseling” at the center. Afterwards, she was sent to Gothard, who then started abusing her himself.
“It started sitting on the sofa hip-to-hip, spreading his legs and touching my knees and smelling my hair,” Spurlock said of the abuse, which eventually led to Gothard “rubbing her thighs and in my vaginal area” over her clothes.
Joy Simmons was sent to the IBLP center after being raped by a man in the Gothard-affiliated church she and her family attended in Wisconsin. Her “counseling” involved about 100 hours a week for free or very little money, as well as private sessions with Gothard that turned abusive.
Simmons, now 40, recalled that Gothard would also touch her while they prayed and asked her to reveal intimate details of her sexual assault during their counseling sessions.
“He would also tell me that it was my fault that I was assaulted and he would ask God to cleanse me,” Simmons told The News.
Gothard, of course, denies the claims–although his driver of several years claims he saw Gothard prey on over 150 women in his time working for him.
Predatory behavior like this is unfortunately very common in religious cults like this–particularly ones that view women as property to be controlled. It happened with Jim Jones, with FLDS, with Children of God, with Michael Travesser, as well as myriad others I could name. The fact that Gothard was a powerful man, both in the church and the world at large, with ties to politicians like Mike Huckabee, George W. Bush and Jeb Bush, made it all the more difficult for these women to stand up to him or say no. He also specifically targeted women who, due to being rape survivors, were already in an emotionally vulnerable position.
Bill Gothard is not a morally upright man of god, he’s a sociopath, a manipulator, and a sexual predator. Unfortunately, due to the time that has passed, he won’t go to jail for his crimes, but hopefully the attention paid to this lawsuit and these women will ensure that no one leaves their daughters alone with him ever again.