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This is an ongoing reference post following the Lourdes Torres-Manteufel vs. Douglas Phillips lawsuit. It includes key information on the case, court documents, background story, key individuals, links to news articles, etc.
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Resource Page on the Lourdes Torres-Manteufel Lawsuit
Against Doug Phillips, Vision Forum, Inc., & Vision Forum Ministries
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SECTIONS IN THIS POST
- Key Facts
- Official Court Documents and Other Statements
- Plaintiff, Defendants, and Their Legal Counsels
- Key Individuals in the Unfolding Story
- Relevant Background Issues
- Select Links to News Reports and Blog Posts
- Historical Overview Posts
- Potentially Relevant Legal Information
- Other Research and Resource Pieces
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The initial compilation of information on this lawsuit was compiled on April 16-17, 2014, by brad/futuristguy, a blogger who periodically contributes to and comments on Spiritual Sounding Board. He has sought to be as accurate as possible in presenting this information. However, if you identify errors, additions, or information otherwise needing correction or clarification, please either post a comment in this thread or send an email with details to: SpiritualSB@gmail dot com. Concerns will be addressed as quickly as possible. Thank you.
Please note: This post is likely to be updated multiple times daily for at least the first 7 to 10 days after this story broke in the news on April 14, 2014. After that, it may be kept up periodically, or may just serve as an archive of initial responses to the story as it unfolded in that time period. That has yet to be determined.
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On Tuesday, April 15, 2014, a civil lawsuit was filed in Bexar County, Texas, on behalf of plaintiff Lourdes Torres-Manteufel. This civil suit names three defendants:
- Douglas Phillips.
- Vision Forum, Inc. (Mr. Phillips’ business enterprise).
- Vision Forum Ministries, Inc. (the religious non-profit entity associated with Mr. Phillips).
- Count 1 – Battery (Against Douglas Phillips)
- Count 2 – Assault (Against Douglas Phillips)
- Count 3 – Sexual Assault (Against Douglas Phillips)
- Count 4 – Fraud (Against Douglas Phillips)
- Count 5 – Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (Against Douglas Phillips)
- Count 6 – Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (Against All Defendants)
- Count 7 – Sexual Exploitation (Against All Defendants)
- Count 8 – Negligent Supervision (Against Vision Forum Ministries and Vision Forum, Inc.)
- Count 9 – Negligent Retention (Against Vision Forum Ministries and Vision Forum, Inc.)
The Petition/Complaint of Ms. Torres-Manteufel seeks damages in the highest category available there, of “over $1 million,” and she requests that this be a jury trial.
Trigger Warning – Be aware that this lawsuit involves numerous issues related to sexual abuse/assault. Official documents, news reports, and blog articles may contain graphic descriptions that you may find offensive and/or a trigger of memories/trauma.
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Official Court Documents and Other Statements
BEXAR COUNTY COURT RECORD SITE
Bexar County, Texas, has an online system for accessing certain basic information about court cases. This includes names of plaintiffs and defendants, cause number (i.e., case number), which court will be used, court dates and case status, and documents filed. Here is how to access available details on Lourdes Torres-Manteufel vs Douglas Phillips et al – which is Cause Number 2014CI05999.
- Go to the site for the Bexar County County Clerk and District Clerk Court Record Search.
- Read the instructions, click on the terms and conditions of use link.
- Click the button for Cause Number and a drop-down box will appear.
- Copy and paste the following cause number into the drop-down box: 2014CI05999.
- Click on Search Case Records. A table of key information will appear on the screen.
- Click on the View Case button and that will take you to a Full Case Information screen with the most current compilation of Case History details available.
For instance, I accessed the site on April 18, 2014, at 07:21:58 AM and the Case History grid listed the three documents that have been filed so far: the Civil Case Information Sheet, the Plaintiff’s Original Petition, and the Jury Demand Jury Fee Paid.
KEY DOCUMENTS AND STATEMENTS
April 15, 2014. Petition filed in Bexar County, Texas, by plaintiff Lourdes Torres-Manteufel. This link is to a 30-page PDF of the official complaint plus cover sheet filed by the plaintiff’s counsel. It was posted by World Net Daily to accompany the WND news story of April 14, 2014, on the lawsuit. Note key details on the cover sheet, and the names of the attorneys for the plaintiff, their firm’s name, and official date of filing on the final page. Note: This PDF combines two official court documents noted on the Bexar County Court Record Site for this case as P00001 (Civil Case Information Sheet) and P00002 (Plaintiff’s Original Petition).
April 14, 2014. Response on the lawsuit/news article to World Net Daily from Jason Jakob, attorney for Douglas Phillips, Beall Phillips, and Vision Forum, Inc. This is a 2-page PDF response on behalf of two of the three defendants. It was posted by World Net Daily to accompany their WND news story of April 14, 2014, on the lawsuit.
April 17, 2014. April 17th Statement of the Vision Forum Ministries Board regarding alleged attempts to silence Ms. Torres about the relationship with Mr. Phillips (who resigned October 30, 2013).
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Plaintiff, Defendants, and Their Legal Counsels
ON THE PLAINTIFF’S SIDE
- The sole plaintiff in this case is Lourdes Torres-Manteufel.
- David C. Gibbs III and Dustin T. Gaines of Gibbs Law Firm (Florida; Texas; Washington, D.C.) serve as attorneys for the plaintiff.
Mr. Gibbs is the attorney who completed the cover sheet for the plaintiff’s Petition. He is also associated with National Center for Life and Liberty (Flower Mound, TX).
NOTE: David C. Gibbs III, who is the attorney for Lourdes Torres-Manteufel is NOT the same person as David C. Gibbs, Jr., of the Christian Law Association, who served as attorney for Jack Schaap. Mr. Gibbs, Jr., is the father; Mr. Gibbs III is the son. Several online forums and other sources have not made the distinction between the two, and wrongly attributed the actions of the father in defending Mr. Schaap to his son.
Together We Overcome: Supporting Lourdes Torres-Manteufel is a Facebook page that was started on April 16, 2014, to encourage the plaintiff in her case and cause.
ON THE DEFENDANTS’ SIDE
- Douglas Phillips. (Mr. Phillips was formerly the President of the board at Vision Forum Ministries.)
- Vision Forum, Inc. (Mr. Phillips’ business enterprise, sometimes abbreviated as VFI).
- Vision Forum Ministries, Inc. (the religious non-profit entity associated with Mr. Phillips, and sometimes abbreviated as VFM).
- Jason J. Jakob of the firm Diaz Jakob Attorneys at Law (San Antonio, TX) is attorney for two defendants: Douglas Phillips and Vision Forum, Inc.
- According to a commenter on this page, as of July 16, 2014, the representation for Vision Forum Ministries, Inc., is Kay Andrews from the Austin, TX, branch of the firm of Hawkins, Parnell, Thackston & Young. This Order to Substitute was approved by Judge Larry Noll and the prior representation which was withdrawn was Thomas C. Sanders, P.C. (Sugar Land, TX). [According to a source earlier in 2014, apparently Alan P. Dye of the firm Webster, Chamberlain and Bean, LLP (Washington, D.C.) also at one time may have been attorney for Vision Forum Ministries.]
- Boerne Christian Assembly (where Mr. Phillips was previously an elder). It is sometimes abbreviated as BCA.
- San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (an enterprise of Vision Forum Ministries). This website has been shut down. To explore previous editions of the site, see this internet archives link to SAICFF in the WayBack Machine.
- Vision Forum, Inc. (the business enterprise). This website is mostly in shut-down mode at this time. To explore previous editions of the site, see this internet archives link to VFI in the WayBack Machine. Here is the link to Vision Forum, Inc.’s Facebook page.
- Vision Forum Ministries (the religious non-profit). To explore previous editions of this website, see this internet archives link to VFM in the WayBack Machine.
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Key Individuals in the Unfolding Story
The names of the following individuals are likely to be seen in official documents, news reports and blog articles, and analysis of the lawsuit. They are listed here along with their main connection(s) to the case. Some are listed in more than one category because of their different ministry involvements and/or multiple roles played in the unfolding story. For key details on the roles and/or official positions (past and/or present) that some these people played, see Attempting to Set the Doug Phillips Record Straight: Part 3 – The Timeline.
VISION FORUM, INC. (VFI)
Vision Forum, Inc., is described in an undated Manta online summary page as a “privately held company” in San Antonio, Texas. It was established in 1997, and at the time of the posting, functioned as a catalog and mail-order business with 20 to 49 employees and annual estimated revenue of from $5 to $10 million. From Manta, plus other sources that indicate some employees at VFI also served on the board for VFM (see links in the VFM Board section below), here is a compilation of some of the key individuals.
- Douglas Phillips – Owner (and Director plus President/Treasurer at Vision Forum Ministries).
- Don Hart – General Counsel at Vision Forum, Inc. (and Director at Vision Forum Ministries).
- Josh Wean – Financial Executive (and CFO/COO at Vision Forum Ministries).
- Tim Horn – Manager.
VISION FORUM MINISTRIES (VFM) BOARD
The officers and five board members for Vision Forum Ministries are listed here according to public information from 2012 on the required IRS Form 990 for Vision Forum Ministries, with the EIN [Employer Identification Number] 74-2984736. This was the most recent official board listing that I was able to locate online.
- Scott Brown – Director at Vision Forum Ministries. He is also Director / President for the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches (NCFIC) and elder at Hope Baptist Church (Wake Forest, North Carolina).
- Don Hart – Director at Vision Forum Ministries, and General Counsel at Vision Forum, Inc. He is also a lawyer (Law Office of Don Hart; Liberty Hill, Texas), Founder and President of Heritage Defense, an elder at North Gabriel Christian Assembly (Cedar Park, Texas), and a board member at NCFIC.
- Douglas Phillips – Director and board President/Treasurer at Vision Forum Ministries.
- Howard Phillips – father of Douglas Phillips; Director and board Vice President at Vision Forum Ministries. According to a biographical article in Wikipedia, Howard Phillips was associated with political conservativism and Christian Reconstructionism; he passed away on April 20, 2013.
- Josh Wean – Chief Financial Officer (CFO/COO) at Vision Forum Ministries.
- Jim Zes – Director and board Secretary at Vision Forum Ministries. He is also a teaching elder at Reformation Christian Assembly (St. Louis, Missouri) and a board member at NCFIC.
In terms of “interlocking directories” and a potential lack of independence, transparency, and accountability among main leaders for VFI and VFM, it is worth noting that:
- Three of the top employees at VFI were also related to VFM – two as directors (Doug Phillips and Don Hart) and one, Josh Wean, as Chief Financial Officer/COO at both entities.
- Three of the VFM board members – Scott Brown, Don Hart, and Jim Zes – are also board members for the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches.
BOERNE CHRISTIAN ASSEMBLY (BCA) – WARING, TEXAS
- Jeff Horn – provisional elder at Boerne Christian Assembly.
- Douglas Phillips – former elder at Boerne Christian Assembly.
- Bob Sarratt – elder at Boerne Christian Assembly.
INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANIZATIONS MENTIONED IN PLAINTIFF’S PETITION
The plaintiff’s Petition, pages 8-9, paragraphs #30 and #31, lists examples of individuals and organizations that promote “biblical patriarchy” and/or the “quiverfull” movement. These philosophies are presented in the Petition as parts of the core system for subjugation of women and girls that conditioned and contributed to the abuse of Ms. Torres. Mentioned there are:
- Voddie Baucham at Voddie Baucham Ministries/Grace Family Baptist Church.
- Scott Brown at National Center for Family-Integrated Churches. Besides being a Director for NCFIC, he is an elder at Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
- Tim Levendusky at Advanced Training Institute Conferences. ATI is part of Institute for Basic Life Principles. Tim Levendusky’s selection as Interrim President was announced March 14, 2014, following the resignation of founder Bill Gothard, who is being investigated on allegations of “misconduct toward and harassment of young women, abuse of spiritual authority, and misuse of Scripture.”
- David Nunnery at Teach Them Diligently.
- Jack Schaap, who was formerly the lead pastor at First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. He is currently serving a 12-year federal prison sentence for violation of the Mann Act. (Wikipedia article on the Mann Act.)
- Jon Summers at Family Covenant Ministries.
- Kevin Swanson at Generations with Vision.
OTHERS RELEVANT TO THE UNFOLDING STORY
Most of the following individuals are mentioned in this historical overview post on Spiritual Sounding Board: Attempting to Set the Doug Phillips Record Straight: Part 3 – The Timeline.
- Voddie Baucham – friend of Mr. Phillips, and Pastor of Preaching at Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas.
- Peter Bradrick – former Executive Assistant to Mr. Phillips for Vision Forum.
- Scott Brown – Director at Vision Forum Ministries. He is also Director for the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches and elder at Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
- Don Hart – Director at Vision Forum Ministries, and general counsel at Vision Forum, Inc.
- Jeff Horn – provisional elder at Boerne Christian Assembly in Waring, Texas.
- Joe Morecraft – friend of Mr. Phillips, and pastor at Chalcedon Presbyterian Church in Cumming, Georgia.
- Jordan Muela – former Vision Forum staff member.
- Beall Phillips – wife of Douglas Phillips.
- Douglas Phillips – Director and board President/Treasurer at Vision Forum Ministries.
- Howard Phillips – father of Douglas Phillips; Director and board Vice President at Vision Forum Ministries.
- Bob Renaud – former Vision Forum assistant.
- Bob Sarratt – elder at Boerne Christian Assembly in Waring, Texas.
- Lourdes Torres-Manteufel – the plaintiff in a lawsuit brought against Douglas Phillips; Vision Forum, Inc.; and Vision Forum Ministries.
- Josh Wean – Chief Financial Officer at Vision Forum Ministries.
- Mark Weaver – a friend of Mr. Phillips from college.
- Jim Zes – Director and board Secretary at Vision Forum Ministries.
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Relevant Background Issues
This case holds broader significance for the Church in America, in part because the theological profile of Vision Forum represents a highly influential mix of doctrinal beliefs, family and church social practices, and Christendom culture. As the charismatic public persona of Vision Forum, Douglas Phillips has represented and role-modeled the intersection of these multiple movements (and toxic faith problems) listed below.
- The homeschool movement, and the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).
- Patriarchy as a manifestation of the complementarian gender movement.
- Stay-at-home daughters (SAHD).
- The Quiverfull Movement.
- Family Integrated Church (FIC).
- Dominion theology, the Seven Mountains Movement.
- Authoritarianism, “psychological totalism,” and hierarchical leadership. (See the “Research and Resource” section.)
- Clergy sexual abuse, sexual abuse in the Church, failure of clergy in mandatory reporting to legal authorities of known/suspected abuse.
- Domestic abuse (spouse abuse) in Christian homes that is not being properly addressed by the Church.
- Lack of transparent accountability in some Christian non-profits.
- Spiritual abuse, malignant ministry leadership.
- Misuse of church discipline, shunning, and other forms of social pressure to enforce silence; and spiritual coercion to “reconcile” as a tactic to preempt legitimate confrontation and conflict resolution.
- “Total institutions.” (See the “Research and Resource” section.)
Such topics are addressed in numerous posts and comment threads here on Spiritual Sounding Board, and at many of the links you’ll find to articles on other websites (especially spiritual abuse survivor blogs). Check the Category list in the right-hand navigation bar for leads. For an overview of many of these key issues as directly relate to this situation, see: Attempting to Set the Doug Phillips Record Straight: Part 1 – The Puzzle of Control, by Julie Anne Smith on March 16, 2014.
Because of the past organizational interconnectedness of many individuals, agencies, and movements with the ideas and/or ministry with Vision Forum, it is likely that report and analysis articles listed in the media section below will address such issues, and various high-profile individuals and organizations associated with them.
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Select Links to News Reports and Blog Posts
The following list represents select links to online media. It is not intended to be comprehensive or complete. Not all national, international, or reposted/reblogged articles are included. It is intended to present a range of (1) in-depth report coverage, analysis, and commentary; (2) articles from a Christian perspective, especially to consider the range of issues in faith and practice raised in related comment threads; and (3) news coverage in the immediate San Antonio region of Texas where local perspectives are provided. Please note: Inclusion of a link here does not imply automatic endorsement of the perspective or conclusions presented in that article. Exclusion of a link does not mean I left it out because it goes against my opinion. Expect that many sources may focus on salacious details or hyper-critical judgments.
I am a research writer and citizen journalist; I read widely in order to sift fact from opinion, and document my findings.From my experiences covering the emerging media on the 2012 BGBC lawsuit related to spiritual abuse, I believe that, for the first few days of this kind of breaking news story, it is especially important to capture the broadest possible range of responses to the emergence of the news. Many of the initial reactions will prove themselves to be ill-informed, offensive, and overtly defensive. However, they are still valuable to note now – as they are happening – because the perspectives and comments we find early on very often represent the range of views that will continue on for the duration. If we want to be as constructive as possible, we need to deconstruct responses that are destructive. These earliest reactions give us important “primary material” to use in our research and analysis as we discern the situation and develop informed opinions.
As mentioned earlier, we (this is a collaborative effort, but I am serving as the point person) plan to update this page, and primarily this media section, several times daily for the first week to 10 days. Upkeep activities beyond that timeframe will be determined later. Meanwhile, if you find what you think is an important new link, you can post it in the comment thread here, or email SpiritualSB@gmail dot com. We will consider the addition as quickly as possible.
APRIL 14, 2014
World Net Daily. Christian giant sued for ‘using nanny as sex object.’ Lawsuit claims religious leader promised to marry young woman after wife dies. This article gives an extensive overview on the history of this situation and the civil suit, based primarily on interviews with Ms. Torres-Manteufel. It gives material on the related homeschooling and patriarchy movements, and also includes links to the copies of the official initial petition court document (30 pages) and a response (2 pages) from the lawyer for two of the defendants, Mr. Phillips and Vision Forum, Inc.
Culture, adventure, stillness. In which Lourdes petitions for a lifeboat, by Katie Botkin.
APRIL 15, 2014
A Cry for Justice. Breaking news: Doug Phillips’ victim files lawsuit against Phillips and Vision Forum, by Barbara Roberts.
Examiner. Duggar family linked to Douglas Phillips lawsuit? Quiverfull lifestyle dissected, by Jodi Jill.
The Hope Blog. Godspeed, Lourdes Torres! A message of support from Ingrid Schlueter.
Michael Farris. Statement on Facebook page of Michael Farris of HSLDA – Home School Legal Defense Association.
Love, Joy, Feminism. Two articles – Doug Phillips: The Rest of the Story and Michael Farris, Patriarchy, and Doug Phillips: An Expose by Libby Anne.
Radar Online. Quiverfull of Scandal: Leader of Religious Movement Linked to Duggar Family Sued for Allegedly Making Teen ‘Personal Sex Slave,’ by Amber Ryland.
The Raw Story. Lawsuit reveals teen was groomed as personal sex slave in the Duggar family’s movement, by Travis Gettys.
San Antonio Express-News. Lawsuit claims S.A. religious leader preyed on his kids’ nanny, by Abe Levy. This article is from a local newspaper near where the alleged activities took place.
Spiritual Sounding Board. Lourdes Torres, Alleged Victim in the Doug Phillips (Vision Forum) Sex Abuse Scandals Files Lawsuit. An early overview of the breaking news story of the lawsuit.
That Mom. Lawsuit filed against Doug Phillips on behalf of abused woman, by Karen Campbell.
APRIL 16, 2014
Christian Post. Vision Forum Founder Doug Phillips Accused By Woman of Treating Her Like ‘Personal Sex Object’ in Lawsuit, by Morgan Lee.
Christian Post. Head of the Home School Legal Defense Association Blasts Doug Phillips’ Biblical Patriarchy Practices, by Morgan Lee.
Homeschoolers Anonymous. Michael Farris, Patriarchy, and Doug Phillips: An Expose, a repost with permission of Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism; plus background research and commentary by R.L. Stoller.
Kens 5, San Antonio. Former minister denies allegations that he kept woman as a ‘sex object’, by Joe Conger. This article was picked up April 17 by KHOU in Houston, Texas.
Love, Joy, Feminism. Michael Farris Admits He Messed Up, by Libby Anne.
The Daily Beast. Sex Scandal Rocks The Duggars’ Christian Patriarchy Movement, by Amanda Marcotte.
The Daily Mail/Mail Online (UK). Leader of Christian ministry followed by the Duggar family from TLC’s 19 Kids And Counting is accused of using teenage girl as ‘personal sex slave’ in $1m lawsuit, by David McCormack.
The Gospel Herald. Doug Phillips Once Again Sued for Using Nanny as ‘Personal Sex Object,’ by Leah Marianne Klett.
Newser. Sex Scandal Hits Christian ‘Patriarchal’ Movement, by John Johnson.
No Longer Quivering. News: Media Starting to Link Duggar Family to Doug Phillips Finally, by Suzanne Calulu.
Slate. Woman Sues Christian Right Leader Douglas Phillips for Alleged Sexual, Mental Abuse, by Amanda Marcotte.
Sola Sisters. Doug Phillips, Repentance and Justice, by Christine Pack.
1200 News Radio WOAI. Local Home Schooling Leader Named in Explosive Lawsuit, by Jim Forsyth. From a San Antonio-area radio station.
The Wartburg Watch. Doug Phillips’ Alleged Victim Files Lawsuit with Explosive Accusations, by Deb Martin.
The Wire. Christian ‘Biblical Patriarchy’ Leader Sued for ‘Inappropriate’ Sexual Acts, by Abby Ohlheiser.
World. Legal complaint filed in Vision Forum case. The possibility of a messy trial brings important reminders about Christian clarity, by Jamie Dean.
APRIL 17, 2014
Huffington Post Religion. Doug Phillips’ Biblical Patriarchy Scandal Moves to the Courts, by Julie Ingersoll.
KSAT.com (San Antonio, Texas). ‘Sex object’ allegations denied by former church leader. Douglas Phillips’ attorney claims woman’s lawsuit ‘all about money,’ by Paul Venema.
1200 News Radio WOAI. Prominent Local Pastor Resonds [sic] to Sex Allegations, by Jim Forsyth. Responses by Mr. Phillips’ legal counsel, Jason Jakob, to the allegations and implications of the lawsuit.
APRIL 18, 2014
American Spectator. Leave the Duggars Alone, by Natalie deMacedo.
APRIL 21, 2014
Chris Jeub. Doug Phillips, High Priest, by Chris Jeub.
Religion Dispatches. Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Filed Against Patriarchal Christian Group, by Julie Ingersoll.
Watch the Shepherd. On Patriarchy, Scandal, Abuse, and Grace, by Virginia Knowles.
APRIL 22, 2014
Culture, adventure, stillness. Vice, Victims and Doug Wilson, by Katie Botkin. A response to a blog post by Doug Wilson [Vice, Victims, and Vision Forum] on Ms. Torres-Manteufel as a “victim.”
The Common Room. I’m Angry, and I’m Getting Angrier, by Headmistress, zookeeper.
The Wartburg Watch. Doug Wilson Weighs in on the Doug Phillips Scandal, by Deb Martin. It references a follow-up blog post by Doug Wilson [Vision Forum and a Season of Meditation].
Examiner [Denver, Colorado]. Questions about the disappearing works of Doug Phillips, by Shawn Mathis. Scott Brown from NCFIC and Kevin Swanson (Generations Radio) have scrubbed Doug Phillips’ articles/interviews: “Why are these sources of Phillips’ beliefs and practices being removed? / In the old days, when an otherwise upstanding minister goes off the deep end, his books were still accessible (thus, informative and maybe even helpful). In this case, they could be helpful for the upcoming trial. But in a digital age, information control is much easier to pull off.”
Paul’s Passing Thoughts. The Divine Right of Calvinist Kings and Lourdes Torres-Manteufel, by Paul Dohse.
Vice. A Masturbation Lawsuit is Rattling Christian Homeschoolers, by Grace Wyler.
Under Much Grace. “Masturbation Lawsuit.” I Couldn’t Even Make This Stuff Up If I Tried!, by Cindy Kunsman.
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Historical Overview Posts
March 29, 2014. Spiritual Sounding Board. Attempting to Set the Doug Phillips Record Straight: Part 3 – The Timeline. This select timeline was compiled by Julie Anne Smith of Spiritual Sounding Board, based on information she gathered over a period of several months, and from a timeline of notes sent to her by a Source with a long-time insider view of Doug Phillips and his ministry. It includes links to key documents/statements, such as the official resignation notice from Vision Forum Ministries, posted by Mr. Phillips, and later clarifications issued by the Vision Forum Ministries board.
Before Ms. Smith published this timeline, it was checked by other sources to ensure that the account was as accurate as possible. This timeline was posted before Doug Phillips’ alleged victim – Lourdes Torres-Manteufel – declared her identity publicly (which she did on April 14, 2014), so she is referred to as “Victim” throughout the timeline, and the Sources will remain unnamed.
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Potentially Relevant Legal Information
The following posts give information that may prove relevant in this lawsuit – please check out the links and information so you can decide for yourself and/or craft informed questions that will help us all better understand the lawsuit and processes leading up to it. Also, to avoid unnecessary confusion and unhelpful speculation, please keep in mind that this is a civil suit, not a criminal trial – although it has been suggested that there may possibly be a base for certain kinds of criminal charges and that these may emerge during the “discovery phase” of the lawsuit. A key thing to note is that civil suits use different procedures than do criminal cases. (For instance, in a civil lawsuit, the outcome is based on a “preponderance of evidence,” NOT on it being “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is the standard in criminal trials.) Please note: Any edits made to text here are within [square brackets].
March 23, 2014. Spiritual Sounding Board. Attempting to Set the Doug Phillips Record Straight: Part 2 – The Victim. This post contains links to relevant information on clergy ethics, clergy sexual abuse, and legal information, especially as it relates to the state of Texas where the alleged sexually and spiritually abusive activities took place. Especially important to note is that Mr. Phillips’ role as an elder in Boerne Christian Assembly apparently puts him into a specific role of spiritual authority over Ms. Torres, and thus in a position of power – this uneven power dynamic would mean that this is not a situation involving interactions of a sexual nature between equal and “consenting adults.”
As with the other articles in her three-part series, author Julie Anne Smith states that she wrote “the majority of this article in my own words based on information sent to me and many hours on the phone with a specific person who has had a birds-eye view of Doug Phillips and his ministry for many years. Before publishing, it has then been checked by other sources to ensure that the account is as accurate as possible.” This article was posted before Doug Phillips’ alleged victim – Lourdes Torres-Manteufel – declared her identity publicly (which she did on April 14, 2014), so she is referred to as “Victim” throughout the timeline, and the Sources will remain unnamed.
April 15, 2014@ 1:13 PM, Comment from Amy Smith @watchkeep.
Julie Anne, The law you are referencing is in the [Texas] penal code which defines criminal activity:
Title 5. Offenses against the person.
Chapter 22. Assaultive Offenses.
Sec. 22.011. Sexual assault.
(b) A sexual assault […] is without the consent of the other person if: […] 10) the actor is a clergyman who causes the other person to submit or participate by exploiting the other person’s emotional dependency on the clergyman in the clergyman’s professional character as spiritual adviser …
Texas Penal Code 22.011(b)(9): “by exploiting [the patient or former patient’s] . . . emotional dependency”; and (b)(10) “by exploiting the other person’s emotional dependency on the clergyman in the clergyman’s professional character as spiritual advisor”
April 16, 2014 @ 1:42 PM, Comment from An Attorney on SSB. [“An Attorney” is a regular commenter on spiritual abuse survivor blogs about legal matters.]
Texas law makes a pastor or similar spiritual leader using his “authority” to have sex (including “almost but not quite sex”, as in this case) with a person in his church, sect, cult, sexual assault. The presumption is a lot like statutory rape.
Two forms are important. One is the person who is incapable of saying yes (due to age or infirmity), i.e., the young and the old, and some with limited intellectual or physical capabilities. The second is someone who is effectively psychologically or emotionally incapable to saying no and making it effective. This includes those being counseled or receiving psychological care, as well as those in the situation of this poor woman.
The crime is a felony, and the convict would have to register as a sex offender.
The civil lawsuit is a different matter and does not preclude a criminal case. The Bexar County District Attorney may be investigating.
There could also be criminal implications of Beale’s behavior as well as that of board members of VFM [Vision Forum Ministries] and VFI [Vision Forum, Inc.], such as witness/victim intimidation, facilitation of the offense, etc.
And I believe the BCA [Boerne Christian Assembly] could be held civilly liable.
BTW, the insurers of VFI, VFM and BCA may or may not pay to defend the suit under the circumstances, but is likely on the hook for some portion of any civil judgment. And DP [Doug Phillips] may have had his own insurance!
On an article at The Wartburg Watch – Doug Phillips’ Alleged Victim Files Lawsuit with Explosive Accusations – comment from An Attorney, about those NOT named as defendants in the lawsuit.
On an article at The Wartburg Watch – Doug Phillips’ Alleged Victim Files Lawsuit with Explosive Accusations – question from Joe, about whether Lourdes gave “consent,” and response from An Attorney, about presumptions under Texas law that someone who is under the authority of a counselor or pastor cannot deny their sexual advances, and therefore Texas law assumes the counselor’s or pastor’s advances are without permission.
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Other Research and Resource Pieces
Several commenters on Spiritual Sounding Board have mentioned the relevance of the sociological concept of “total institution” to the systems of control allegedly implemented in and around the situations in this lawsuit. The term has also shown up on a significant number of the news reports and blog posts. The classic book detailing total institutions is Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates, by Erving Goffman (1961, Anchor Books/Doubleday, ISBN 0385000162). Here is a blurb from the book’s back cover:
Asylums is an analysis of life in “total institutions” – closed worlds such as prisons, army training camps, naval vessels, board schools, monasteries, and nursing homes – where the inmates are regimented, surrounded by other inmates, and unable to leave the premises. It describes what these institutions make of the inmate, and what he or she can make of life inside them. … The first essay is a general portrait of life in a total institution. The other three consider special aspects of this existence: the initial effects of institutionalization on the inmate’s previous social relationships; the ways of adapting once in the institution; and the role of the staff in presenting to the inmate the facts of his or her situation.
See also the Wikipedia article on the Asylums book. This quote from Loren Mosher, another critique of the 1950s version of mental asylums as a total institution, is quite telling about some of the critical techniques used to achieve subjugation to the system:
American psychiatrist Loren Mosher noticed that the psychiatric institution itself gave him master classes in the art of the “total institution”: labeling, unnecessary dependency, the induction and perpetuation of powerlessness, the degradation ceremony, authoritarianism, and the primacy of institutional needs over those of the persons it was ostensibly there to serve-the patients.
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“Psychological Totalism” / “Authoritarianism”
An isolative society need not be a theological “cult” in order to exert mind-control over its members. The driving force can be a philosophy, political paradigm, or whatever is dictated by its charismatic leader(s). The classic study on sociological “cults” of total control over an organization’s or society’s members was also published over 50 years ago, and became a pillar in what has emerged as the discipline of “trauma psychology.” Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of ‘Brainwashing’ in China, by Robert Jay Lifton (1961, 1989, University of North Carolina Press, ISBN 0807842532). For an overview and PDF summary of Dr. Lifton’s eight criteria for identifying an authoritarian organization, see: Lessons from The Hunger Games 5A – Dystopian Dynamics, Totalitarian Tactics, and Lifton’s Criteria for Identifying “Cults,” by Brad Sargent.
How Do We Discern Dystopian Dynamics and Totalitarian Tactics? POST SUMMARY: This post introduces and overviews Robert Jay Lifton’s eight criteria for totalitarian thought reform (“brainwashing”) systems. It also gives some learning exercises for two groups: survivors of spiritual abuse and their personal network, and organizational designers/leaders who want to develop healthy and sustainable ministries. Note: I have split this material into three parts so readers can receive the best benefit from it.
Part 5A prepares our thinking with a review of previous points in the series for discerning an abusive/dystopian system, thoughts on totalitarian tactics from The Hunger Games trilogy, and the “before” part of the learning exercise.
Part 5B summarizes Dr. Lifton’s system for identifying “cults” and how the various elements work together. It then explores the first four of his eight criteria, dealing with: communications, motivations, absolutism, and confession.
Part 5C explores the final four of Dr. Lifton’s eight criteria: ultimate vision, language, ideological conformity, and ostracism. It also gives the “after” part of the learning exercise, and draws out three key issues for putting “brainwashing” into perspective.
If you’d prefer to have a printable copy, I have compiled this three-part mini-series into a PDF on Robert Jay Lifton’s Eight Criteria for Identifying Authoritarian Cults. I reformatted the material so each of his criteria begins on a new page.
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These two comments by Cindy Kunsman help understand some of the psycho-social dimensions of how authoritarianism and total institutions function to keep people “tethered” in an orbit in and around the system, unable to find their way easily to freedom. She mentions works by Janja Lalich. For more information, see:
- Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults, by Janja Lalich (University of California Press, 2004, ISBN 0520240189).
- Take Back Your Life: Recovering From Cults and Abusive Relationships, by Janja Lalich and Melanie Tobias (Bay Tree Publishing, 2nd Edition, 2006, ISBN 0972002154).
Earlier today, I explained the concept of Bounded Choice to a reporter. Those who are not raised in a high demand setting don’t realize all of the internal resources, experience and encouragement that that they take for granted — things that are never afforded to people who grew up with blanket training and other types of high control environments. When all major decisions are governed by parents and are submitted for their approval, young people fail to develop the experience and full ability to discern matters for themselves. Under extreme stress, they tend to freeze like a deer in the headlights — which is actually an adaptive response that helps them survive trauma.
But though it seems like they have choices that they can make and should be able to exercise some autonomy, they can’t. Autonomy in many Calvinist circles is seen as a filthy word describing sin. They don’t have the liberty or the where with all to act on their own behalf. From the outside of the system, those looking into it assume wrongly that a “second generation adult” (SGA — a person raised in a high demand religion) has the same set of skills, instincts and resources to free themselves that they would have. First generation adults — those who have “good enough” backgrounds also take for granted their own skills and abilities as well. They are grossly lacking in SGAs. There is also the issue of the effect of habituation in an abusive relationshp that Patrick Carnes describes so well in the Betrayal Bond. People lose perspective and believe they are powerless. SGAs suffer from lack of self-care, soul crushing perfectionism, lack of appropriate interpersonal boundaries, and their normal level of living is bathed in extremism. They often develop what is termed as “learned helplessness.”
That is apart from the consequences of rebellion against the will of one’s parents (that God is taught to punish for exiting the umbrella of protective authority) and that by losing a parent’s favor, one might actually lose their own soul in the process by failing in their submission. They may have choices, but they have no ability to seize them. They are unthinkable options that never occur to the SGA until the point at which their survival depends on it. Even then, they need the help and encouragement of those who can work with them to help them recover what they lost in terms of their growth and development.
Within adult relationships, research demonstrates the following compulsive relationship patterns in those who have suffered trauma. They manifest as are used by those who have suffered trauma in the same way that an addict uses a chemical substance or behavior to avoid negative feelings, negative circumstances, and rejection (Carnes on pages 125-127; West & Sheldon in Classification of Pathological Attachment Patterns in Adults; Sable in Disorders of Adult Attachment).
Relationship Patterns of Victims in Response to Those who Exploit Power
Compulsive Focus on the Abuser (Involves caretaking and enmeshment)
Compulsive Identification with Others
Compulsive Reality Distortion (Denial of abuse and wishful thinking)
Compulsive Abuse Seeking (In other relationship or through self-destructive behavior)
This describes bounded choice in greater detail with much more via the link:
I once heard a story about an elephant that spent its life tethered to a stake that was driven deeply into the ground. He spent his whole life living only within the radius allowed by the tether. One day, the tether breaks, but the elephant never ventures out beyond that which he has always known, even though he is no longer physically restricted. He stays within the familiar and never ventures out beyond the well-worn path, the radius of that which the elephant has always known. It’s really quite a sad story.
The concept of bounded choice parallels that of the story of the elephant. Though no physical restraints exist, people who believe that they have no choice find that forces more powerful than physical ones keep them bound to a predictable number of options. In “Take Back Your Life,” what I consider the definitive guide to personal recovery from group manipulation, Janja Lalich describes what bounded choice looks like for those within a group.
From page 50:
In other words, neither the charismatic leader nor others in the group need to be present to tell a follower what to do; rather, having internalized the lessons and adapted her outlook, the loyal and true believer knows precisely what she needs to do to stay in the good graces of the all-knowing and all powerful leader. The true believer need only ‘imagine’ what actions to take, knowing full well that she will act within the bounds of the cult reality, for in a sense her self has merged with the leader and the group.
What other reality is there? The one thing the devoted adherents cannot imagine is life outside the group. In other words, the cult member is constrained by both external (real or imagined) and internal sanctions. At this point, whatever choices remain are “bounded” ones. They are choices, yes, but not free ones. They are choices of life or death — figuratively, and, in some cases, literally.
Once an individual becomes a part of a closed, totalistic system, several factors work to keep them entrenched in that system, powerfully tethered to the predictable radius that is acceptable to the group. Members appear to have a wealth of options, but often, the group dynamics and the withholding of information and knowledge drastically limit rational choice. Because of distorted and absent boundaries, personal choice actually become organizational choice which constrains the member to a predetermined set of “givens.” Though it is true that all people do not possess an unlimited number of possibilities, the structure of totalistic groups confines them even further.
Janja Lalich expands upon this concept to describe the comprehensive factors that bind an individual within a totalistic group, identifying four “interlocking and interactional dimensions of the social structure” that creates a “bounded reality and contribute to a state of personal closure for the individual participant” (pg 261).
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Post Development History
Additions to the section on news articles and blog post may be updated daily, and so are not noted below.
April 16-17, 2014 – resource page developed.
April 17 – resource page posted. New media links added.
April 18 – Bexar County Court Record Site and usage instructions added. April 17th statement from the board of Vision Forum Ministries added. List of names in Key Individuals in the Unfolding Story section expanded and then categorized.
April 20 – addition of two links to the Potentially Relevant Legal Information section. Corrections made to details on the prison sentence of Jack Schaap. Addition of clarification between David C. Gibbs, Jr., and David C. Gibbs III.
April 23 – expansion of the Other Research and Resource Pieces with additional sources on “Total Institution” and the addition of entries on “Bounded Choice.”