Former IBLP member Emily Elizabeth Anderson shares in the series that she was Jane Doe III, as she preferred to be identified when she and nine other women sued Gothard in 2016, alleging sexual abuse and harassment.
She recalls Gothard inviting her when she was 14 to quit homeschool and go live at IBLP’s Chicago headquarters “indefinitely.” He told her that her father didn’t love her anymore and “had lost all authority over her,” she alleges, so Gothard “would be her new authority.”
Elizabeth describes an evening where Gothard brought her up to his office and was visibly startled to see a male assistant still working, assuming they were going to be alone.
Gothard resigned from the IBLP board in March 2014 amid an outside legal counsel investigation into sexual misconduct allegations that ultimately determined he acted in an “inappropriate,” if not criminal, manner. When IBLP shared the investigation’s findings in June 2014, Gothard said in a later-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 now 88-year-old did not return E!’s request for comment and declined to comment for the series. He has previously denied allegations of sexual misconduct.
The plaintiffs dropped their lawsuit in 2018 but told Recovering Grace (an online support community for alums of IBLP and its homeschool curriculum, the Advanced Training Institute) that they were “not recanting” their allegations “or dismissing the incalculable damage that we believe Gothard has done by his actions and certain teachings.”
Explaining on the show why they stopped pursuing Gothard in court, in addition to statutes of limitations and the financial burden, Elizabeth says, “It’s constantly rehashing the most horrific memories of your life and telling them again and again. If you decide to move forward in a case it’s also important that you realize the emotional toll that it’s going to continue to take on you. Quite frankly, the cost was too high.”
Jinger Duggar, who detailed her break from IBLP in her 2023 memoir, was the only member of her family to seemingly comment in response to Gothard’s legal issues. She tweeted in 2018 that, while she was a Christian, “I have to be honest, and true to myself by tweeting this. I do not support Bill Gothard and the Institute of Biblical [sic] Life Principles in any way, shape, or form. I find his ‘teachings’ extremely questionable.”