Jinger recalls laughing with her sisters at the mall while trying on a blonde wig as they joked about “being ready for headquarters.”
Meaning, she writes, that the blonde hair made them look like “Gothard’s Girls”: Girls and young women, most with “long hair, big smiles and petite body types,” many from single-parent homes “without a father or grandfather to guide and protect them,” who worked at IBLP headquarters in Hillsdale, Ill.
“For us, this wasn’t more than an odd quirk of our little world,” Jinger writes. “Now, after everything that’s happened over the past 10 years, I realize the joke wasn’t funny.”
Gothard would invite a girl to talk, she explains, and after awhile he’d “rub the women’s feet and hold their hands, both of which were strictly forbidden between a man and woman who were not married. A lot of Gothard’s girls have said that Gothard would touch them inappropriately or engage in explicitly sexual activity. Ten of those ladies filed a lawsuit against Gothard in 2016.”
He resigned from the IBLP board in March 2014 amid a review by outside legal counsel into allegations he had sexually harassed and molested women. In June 2014, IBLP stated the investigation determined Gothard “acted in an inappropriate manner” but didn’t commit criminal acts. (Gothard said in a since-deleted statement, “My actions of holding of hands, hugs, and touching of feet or hair with young ladies crossed the boundaries of discretion and were wrong.”)
The 10 plaintiffs dropped their complaint in 2018, but said in a joint statement to Recovering Grace, “We want to make it abundantly clear that by dismissing our lawsuit at this time, we are not recanting our experiences or dismissing the incalculable damage that we believe Gothard has done by his actions and certain teachings. Nor are we disregarding that his organization chose to protect themselves instead of those under their care.”
Gothard, now 88, has denied any wrongdoing, stating on his website that the same women who accused him of sexual misconduct “had written marvelous letters of gratefulness to me during those 20 years, thanking me for ‘being their best friend,’ ‘bringing about the turning point” in their lives, and “giving them help and encouragement” that they will always remember. There was never a hint of harassment because there was none.”