Bill Gothard
© Institute in Basic Life Principles via Wikimedia
Bill Gothard founded the Institute in Basic Life Principles
Stunning allegations are emerging about Bill Gothard, who is a big deal in conservative Protestant homeschooling circles. Here is a new allegation from a woman, "Charlotte" (she's pictured), who says she was raped by her conservative pastor father at age eight, and later, at 16, sent to work at Gothard's headquarters at Gothard's request. Excerpt:
He wanted all the details of my past sexual experiences. He asked me a lot about how much I had let my boyfriend touch me, how we kissed - it went on and on. He seemed to get pleasure from pulling every detail out of me. We would then kneel at the couch and pray. I remember how my knees would hurt after a while. He made me confess, often holding my hand. He liked to make me cry over it. Bill told me that God had a better plan for me.

He knew what my father had done to me, but he called me into repentance for my own sins without confronting my father or addressing his sin. I was a temptation to men; Bill Gothard told me that I had tempted my own father.

I craved Bill's attention but felt guilty about the increasing touches he gave me. I wanted a relationship with a man that was like a relationship with a father. Bill Gothard gave me that feeling of being worth something.
© Unknown
“Charlotte” at IBLP Headquarters

There were rumors going around about Bill and me. My brother started hearing things and asked me about it. Of course I denied everything. Bill had sworn me to silence with both guilt and fear. I was the one who was at fault because I was tempting him. If I told anyone, the future of the entire ministry could be compromised. Why would I want to hinder God's work? He told me that this was our little secret, just between us. If I told anyone, he said he would kick my family out of ATI.

There was enough of a stir about how much time I was spending alone with Bill that my brother went to a higher-up in January and had him try to get Bill to send me home. As I understand it, the IBLP Board called Bill on the carpet for spending so much time alone with a young girl, and I was sent home in January. I believe my brother saved me.

When Bill knew I was being sent home, he called me into his office. He took me in his arms and ran his fingers through my hair. Hugging me tight, he told me never to cut my hair, that I was his inspiration. He then kissed me deeply on the lips and told me never to forget him. Then I was picked up and put on a plane, and I have never heard from him since.

My parents blackballed me and thought I was the devil because I was sent home from Headquarters. I was a shame to the family for being sent home. I really went on a tailspin after that. I tried to take my life a number of times. I turned to sex and men to make me feel better about myself. I thought that sex was all I was worth.
The site that posted this (and many other accounts) says that it confirmed some details of Charlotte's story with two others who were Gothard staffers when Charlotte worked there, and who knew here. They allowed their photos to be published too.

The site making public all these allegations - and that's what they are at this point; as far as I can tell, Gothard has not responded to them, nor have any facts been determined it court - is called Recovering Grace. It has been going for several years, and is run by people who were brought up within the culture of Gothardism, and who want to expose what they see is its destructive power.

Again, we do not know if Bill Gothard did what all the people on the Recovering Grace site allege him to have done. But the tales they tell will be familiar to anybody who has spent time looking into how corrupt religious figures from all faiths and churches pervert the faith to perpetuate sexual abuse, and keep it all a secret.

More: Bill Gothard, Conservative Leader, Placed On Leave Following Abuse Allegations | by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, The Huffington Post Posted: 02/28/2014 12:35 pm

((RNS) Bill Gothard, an Illinois-based advocate for home schooling and conservative dress who warned against rock music and debt, has been placed on administrative leave after allegations of sexually harassing women who worked at his ministry and failing to report child abuse cases.

Gothard's Institute in Basic Life Principles was once a popular gathering spot for thousands of Christian families, including the Duggar family from TLC's 19 Kids and Counting. Gothard's Advanced Training Institute conferences were also popular among devotees of the Quiverfull movement, who promote large families and eschew birth control.

He's also rubbed shoulders with Republican luminaries. He and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee were photographed at a campaign lunch together; former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue spoke at one of Gothard's conferences; and Sarah Palin, when she was a small town mayor in Alaska, attended his International Association of Character Cities conferences and declared Wasilla among Gothard's "Cities of Character."

In a statement posted Thursday (Feb. 27), board chairman Billy Boring told World magazine: "After completion of the review, the board will respond at an appropriate time, and in a biblical manner." Until then, the statement said, Gothard "will not be involved in the operations of the ministry. The board of directors will be prayerfully appointing interim leadership."

Gothard is 79 and single.

The allegations against Gothard dovetail with financial woes. In recent years, IBLP's net revenue has dropped significantly, and the ministry is losing money. In 2009, it reported a net income loss of $1 million. It lost $4.1 million in 2011, and $3.5 million in 2012, according to its most recently available tax forms. Its net assets dropped from $92 million in 2010 to $81 million in 2012.

Since it started as a class at Gothard's alma mater, Wheaton College, in 1961, more than 2.5 million people have gone through his "basic seminar" training on authority, success and other issues. IBLP held 504 seminars in 2010, but that number dropped to fewer than 50 in 2012.

The financial decline came around the same time that the whistle-blowing website Recovering Grace was formed in 2011. A string of allegations has been posted on the website, including one alleging Gothard molested a woman who was underage in the early 1990s. Four articles allege Gothard engaged in sexual harassment, and four articles allege his failure to report child abuse to Child Protective Services.

Calls placed to IBLP Thursday and Friday were not immediately returned.

Gretchen Swearingen, who goes by her middle name "Charlotte," wrote on the website that Gothard requested she come work for him in 1992 at IBLP's headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., when she was 16. During her time there, she said Gothard would play footsie with her and hold her hand. At one point, she said, he had coordinated a ride from the airport for them to be together. "That's when he first put his hand between my legs and felt me all the way up," she wrote.

Now 38, she said the statute of limitations has expired, leaving her unable to sue. She said she told her mother, who told her that she was lying, so Swearingen assumed there was nothing she could do.

"No one was there when the molestation was happening," she said in an interview. "I never had the guts to say anything. I thought if my mother didn't believe me, who would? You're not to bring home false witness against someone at headquarters."

She said that she and her mother have reconciled since she wrote her story.

Swearingen said she reported her story to the Hinsdale (Ill.) Police Department a week ago. A police spokesman said no investigation has been opened at this time.

"It's not about revenge, not about suing him or taking him to court," she said. "It's about my healing and giving other people voices."

Gothard would create an emotional bond with several women during counseling, said Rachel Frost, who also worked at IBLP's headquarters when she was 16.

"There was a very common grooming pattern of creating emotional bonds and physical affirmations, the footsie, the leg rubs, the stroking of the hair, the constant comments on physical appearance," she said.

She also wrote about her experience on the Recovering Grace website.

Julie Terrell, another woman who worked at IBLP's headquarters, said Gothard sexually harassed her when she worked there in 1998. But before stories were posted at Recovering Grace, she never thought to say anything.

One woman behind the Recovering Grace website, who declined to be named because she did not want to hurt the reputation of her husband who is a pastor, said 34 women told the website they had been sexually harassed; four women alleged molestation. She said she refers anyone whose story is within the statute of limitations to the police.

IBLP is not the only institution in more conservative evangelical circles currently under scrutiny.

Last year, another prominent home-schooling leader, Doug Phillips, stepped down from his ministry that shut down after he acknowledged an extramarital relationship. The New Republic recently published a piece on Patrick Henry College, a school popular among home-schooling families, suggesting that the college had failed to report sexual abuse. In a statement, the college took issue with some of the allegations made in the piece.

Earlier this month, Bob Jones University, which started popular curricula for home-schooling families, fired and then rehired an independent firm to investigate sex abuse reports just one month before the group planned to release its 13-month review findings.