Doug Phillips & Vision Forum, Homeschool Movement, Lourdes Torres vs Doug Phillips lawsuit, Scott Brown, Sexual Abuse/Assault and Churches

Update on Lourdes Torres-Manteufel vs Doug Phillips Lawsuit


Lourdes Torres-Manteufel vs Doug Phillips Vision Forum Lawsuit Update


Several weeks ago, a reader asked if I had any updates on the Lourdes Torres-Manteufel vs. Doug Phillips lawsuit. I contacted David C. Gibbs III to see if he could provide us with an update on the case and he has done so:


The Torres lawsuit is proceeding on two fronts, one in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio division, Case 5:14-cv-00758-HLH and the underlying state lawsuit in Texas State Court, 438th Judicial District, Bexar County, Cause No: 2014-CI-05999.

The federal lawsuit was filed by Assurance Company of America (insurance carrier) to deny coverage to Vision Forum and Phillips. That case is set to end discovery in May and is set for trial in July of 2015.

The underlying Texas state lawsuit has been amended to include additional defendants Don Hart, Scott Brown, and James Zes (three men who were on the board of directors for Vision Forum Ministries). Discovery is ongoing in the state case and trial is set for March of 2016.

Lourdes Torres appreciates the prayers and concern of people from across the nation as she wants to rebuild her life and overcome the abuse she endured.


  ~David C. Gibbs III, March 28 2015



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40 thoughts on “Update on Lourdes Torres-Manteufel vs Doug Phillips Lawsuit”

  1. Witch Hazel –

    It’s just a typical stalling process we see in the court system. My interpretation is that the insurance company is trying to wipe their hands clean of this case and are doing whatever they can do legally to remove themselves. In a case like this, a lot of money is involved and of course nobody wants to claim responsibility or dish out $$ if they don’t have to. This is likely creating more work for Gibbs to prove that they do have responsibility for coverage.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s interesting that members of the VF board have been included in the case. And not so good that VF’s insurance is trying to get out of paying. I wish Lourdes well as she rebuilds her life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t blame Assurance for suing to get away from this, especially if they do indeed have good evidence there were lies on the application, but it occurs to me that Lourdes is going to get a decision in her case about the same time her children head off to college. Count me as one who does not completely understand the ways of the law, and all the best to the plaintiff and those around her.


  4. To the best of my understanding Doug Phillips was a ‘wal-mart’ manager and sold some Christian based material on his store shelves. He just never wanted to read the biblical stuff on the store shelves. Sad that a man had so much ‘fame’ and power and used it to his own advantage rather than self-control. These days if your family is NOT famous and well-known among many believers and non-believers….. it is a blessing in disguise.


  5. To the best of my understanding Doug Phillips was a ‘wal-mart’ manager and sold some Christian based material on his store shelves.


    I am putting you in moderation. I just verified with my reliable Phillips source about your Walmart claim. It is not true. I am still disturbed by your comments in the Gothard thread and you have failed to respond to the several commenters who challenged you. When we are dealing with abuse and people whose lives are damaged, I am not going to allow my blog to be a place where someone can flippantly disregard real abuse and fabricate stories about abusive leaders.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Lauraraggedy said: To the best of my understanding Doug Phillips was a ‘wal-mart’ manager and sold some Christian based material on his store shelves. He just never wanted to read the biblical stuff on the store shelves. Sad that a man had so much ‘fame’ and power and used it to his own advantage rather than self-control. These days if your family is NOT famous and well-known among many believers and non-believers….. it is a blessing in disguise.

    He was much more than a “wal-mart manager”. He was an author and highly paid conference speaker, hawking his ideas. He didn’t just sell so-called christian based material, he promoted it heavily if it fit in with the “vision” he wanted to promote. He sold a dream — and many of the families who were buying the dream couldn’t really afford it, but it certainly looked good from the outside.

    Did you ever look at the prices in his catalogs for those wonderful wholesome toys? I don’t know about you, but our family couldn’t afford them. Our kids envied the kids at church whose families (sometimes sacrificially) bought such things. Oh, and our girls thought the boys’ stuff looked a lot more fun than the toys offered for girls, but sadly it wouldn’t have been “appropriate” for them to play with such things, even if we could have afforded them. Not in our heavily VF-influenced social circle.

    We bought his materials, we read the books he recommended, we listened to his recordings, his own teachings (not just “some Christian based material on his store shelves”) until the stench of the garbage under the glossy chocolate coating grew so strong we couldn’t ignore it anymore.

    For me, it was watching our daughters growing up into intelligent women with gifts outside of the stay-at-home-homemaker/mother box. Why would God give them gifts that they’d only have to bury, in order to succeed at “His” plan for their lives? The bible warns against people burying their talents, and yet that is exactly what Doug Phillips’ approach, and those whose teachings he promoted, required.

    I still remember the blinding moment of clarity, watching the Botkins’ video about the adventure of being a woman. I admit I was excited when I saw the title (though I don’t remember exactly what the title was, it involved adventure and womanhood or femininity). I had been feeling restless, somehow, worried that our daughters were being short-changed, that something wasn’t right. This video would make it all clear! There really was adventure and satisfaction in following one’s biblical calling!

    Only, in watching the video, it was made clear enough. The “adventure” involved the Botkin son going off to exotic foreign places (the Nile, I think — pyramids and such) to film a documentary. The sisters’ part of the adventure? (How exciting, to travel to Egypt, see the pyramids, visit the place where Moses himself might have walked… but no.) The sisters’ part was to sit at home and do research for their brother’s project. I kid you not. This was part of the grand adventure of being a girl.

    My gut reaction was that girls are cheated by this model of thinking.

    Troubled, I went to one of my mentors to talk to her about this. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but it might have been something to do with my college feminism (which I had been at pains to eradicate over the years in that church) rearing its head again. It was something we’d talked about before. Something I struggled with. Difficult stuff to weed out. Even when you think you’ve got all the roots, another shoot springs up.

    In any event, I’m glad I finally listened to my gut. From there, it was a slow and painful journey to get out. And then some time later (I don’t know how long it was between that “Adventures” material and Doug Phillips’ downfall), Doug Phillips proved that he, himself, was unable to practice his own teachings. He never has disavowed them, so far as I know, or admitted that he pharaseeically fashioned burdens for his followers that were too heavy to bear, much less himself.

    And hey, even Wal-Mart will issue recall notices for flawed merchandise.

    Liked by 7 people

  7. For the record, Walmart requires honest work. It’s not a job in which one gets to draw attention to self and self-promotion. Additionally, working for Walmart means you have someone in supervision over you. I’m having a hard time picturing Doug Phillips submitting to anyone. That is not something we’ve seen from him, including submitting to the church elders he left behind at Boerne Christian Assembly. That is why he is in church discipline at BCA.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’ll give lauraraggedy credit for putting “Wal-Mart” between scare quotes, from which I take it she did not mean Phillips was literally a Wal-Mart manager. However, that does not absolve her from the turpitude attached to her attempt to minimize Phillips’ responsibility. In another thread lauraraggedy informs us Hitler wasn’t responsible for the Holocaust, his followers were. Bill Gothard isn’t primarily responsible for the reign of terror to which his teachings subjected, and are subjecting, our Lord’s most innocent and defenseless lambs. And now, Doug Phillips has no more responsibility than a salaried employee responsible for organizing the sale of other people’s wares.

    I’m beginning to wonder if lauraraggedy hasn’t bought into a radical understanding of the call for obedience to authority, however corrupt. If Doug Phillips, Bill Gothard and even Adolph Hitler are not to be called to account, can even the satan himself be held responsible?

    Methinks Wal-Mart has been defamed.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Calling Phillips a Wal-Mart manager really doesn’t do justice to either who he is, or for that matter who the average Wal-Mart manager is. The Wal-Mart manager is not a marketer, not a writer, not a public speaker, but he’d better know very well how to recruit, manage, and retain people who are capable of running the store, and how to interact with Wal-Mart’s amazing distribution systems.

    Phillips, on the other hand, was a pretty good “kibitzer” who excelled at marketing (at least self-promotion) and did a decent job at public speaking and writing–agree or disagree with what he was saying, he knew his way around a microphone and a pen/keyboard. And the periodic fire sales VF had indicated that Phillips desperately needed the supply chain acumen of Wal-mart. He also seems to have lacked the je ne sais quoi that Wal-Mart has that keeps a person coming back. VF was always very surface, telling you you needed to be a family leader but never exactly getting around to how one ought to do that. I think it has something to do with a abolitionist slaveowner girl or a water balloon slingshot, but I’m not sure.

    In fact, some of the things I’ve heard him talk about–his poorly paid interns, extreme control of cash flow–indicate that he was trying to hold the whole thing together via force of personality, really, which is probably how he thought he was going to put this sordid mess to rest.


  10. Our family paid dearly to drink the VF koolaid, attending the conferences, purchasing the books, videos, dolls etc. The WHOLE.MESS. and now we have 4 daughters who still love their Dad, but feel we led them into a “Victorian” dream land. When they threw that all out, some also threw out the Lord. They are now college graduates (2 with their Masters) and happy in life, but we grieve for the years that we wasted and how relationships with God were redefined by DP and Bill Gothard. My hope; He who began a good work will complete it in Christ Jesus. Phil 1:6 But I can’t help being sad for all the time/money we wasted.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Any religious stance which views women as less than men results in abuse and damaged lives. It’s interesting to me how consistent the pattern is with conservative right-wing evangelicals, who proclaim a view of women as godly property from the pulpit and then turn around and commit adultery in every possible direction with both hands. This is why I stopped listening to preachers.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Dash, that is my husband’s view exactly. He trusts no man after what we endured with DP and BG. You’re comments put it better in perspective. I have been beating myself up for being so gullible (sheep-like, thirsty for the koolaid) and he tends to distrust any preacher, believing they are like salesmen, selling their product and lying through their teeth to get the deal. We just wanted to “get it right” and raise Godly children. We failed big time. For dear Lourdes, I am praying for God’s justice and yes, Texas-sized justice from our courts, and a full, fresh start for Lourdes.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Julie Anne, I don’t think she meant Phillips literally worked at Walmart. I think she meant he had no authority to decide what went on his store shelves. Phil Vischer made a comparison between Walmart & independent Christian booksellers in his memoir: if a walmart manager changes the chanel on one of the TVs, he gets fired. If a Christian bookseller likes a particular Christian video, he can play it all day long. ❤


  14. taylorjoyyoung,

    You’re right, I may in fact have missed it on the Walmart not being literal.

    One thing I do feel bad about is that I usually give warning before putting someone in moderation and I did not do that this time. What I did was look through all of the comments by lauraraggedy to see that her comments were shaming and not appropriate for a survivor blog and determined that I had seen enough of a pattern to justify moderation.

    Yesterday I mentioned that when people addressed lauraraggedy about her Hitler comments, she ignored those comments and then left a new comment on a new thread.

    She has been reading this thread. I know this because there is currently a comment in moderation that I will not approve. She quoted Deb who recently posted about feeling like a failure after following Doug Phillips and then said, “A wise woman . . .” Those are should statements (you should have done this, you should not have done that). That is not helpful. Of course Deb knows this now in hindsight, but this is not the way we respond to someone who is sharing her pain.

    Note to lauraraggedy: if you want your comments to be published, do not blameshift, defend abusers, or shame commenters.

    Edited to add: Failing to address the comments directed to you and act as if they didn’t exist is not acceptable here in this community.

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Deb – I’m guessing that there are many of us (myself included) here who have said, “How did we ever get here in this place?” Please know you’re not alone. Give yourself the time that you need and embrace everything that you’re feeling. I hope that you find yourself stronger in the end

    Liked by 4 people

  16. Exactly, Kathi, I was just reading through Deb’s comments again and thinking that I can so much relate with the mommy guilt. Our stories are tragic and there are many readers who never comment who are saying to themselves, “yup, that is me and my family, too.”

    I also want to acknowledge refugee, too. I think there are a lot of moms and dads who are struggling with guilt since the fall of Gothard and Phillips. Both of their so-called ministries lasted (and have continued) for many years. For Gothard, we’re talking decades and so the fallout is enormous. So many people have been affected by these frauds.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Doug Phillips proved that he, himself, was unable to practice his own teachings. He never has disavowed them, so far as I know, or admitted that he pharaseeically fashioned burdens for his followers that were too heavy to bear, much less himself.

    No, he has not admitted anything. The fact that he is now a member of a mega-church, dismissing his many years of teaching that family-integrated churches are the biblical way should speak volumes.


  18. Yes, Refugee, my heart goes out to you too. I think most parents experience some “after thought” guilt about what we did as parents. But to follow ideas that help you to think that your kids will turn out a certain way if you follow these rules – and then to have those ideals dashed – I know it must be hard. My kids are old enough now that I’ve said to them, “I wish I wouldn’t have…Sorry about that.”

    I remember seeing the VF stall at the Christian Homeschool Convention. I glanced at it and thought it wasn’t for me. Did they have books that promoted chivalry and princessness in kids? Huge on modesty, I remember that.


  19. I am happy to see the three VF board of directors men included in the lawsuit as well. Besides my personal objection to their teachings (Scott Brown in particular), these men were definitely in position to call out Doug’s destructive behavior, and they did not. It was common knowledge in the conservative San Antonio-area circles, and in my former cult-church, that Doug was an egomaniac–yet no one ever bothered to confront him about it. Now, thanks to Lourdes’ bravery, the world will see the shame of their patriarchal pride.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Now, thanks to Lourdes’ bravery, the world will see the shame of their patriarchal pride.

    That is, if VF hasn’t been learning strategy & tactics from Scientology.
    (Betcha Douggie ESQUIRE wishes he had David Miscavage’s clout & org right now…)


  21. In general I hate the pace in which we receive justice in our court system. There are too many road blocks. On the other hand, and I mean this from the point of view of someone who inherited money much too early, if Lourdes wins (I pray she does), deferring any pay until she is older will probably Serve her better after she has more life experience. Once she receives a settlement there will be a lot of clever “money managers” who will be tearing down her door to advise her on how to handle her windfall. They will see her as a means to enrich themselves! After coming out of a high control group, people need time and experience to gain the wisdom on money management and who to trust!! I wish only the best for her.


  22. Ann’s got a great point in her 1:46pm comment. “An inheritance quickly gained is not blessed in the end.” Hopefully, Ann, you’re not too brutalized by your experience there!

    But that said, I fear that this one dies with a whimper if Assurance isn’t required to defend them because the defendants don’t have much resources without Assurance, and may be eating what they have up quickly.

    Like it or not, Phillips’ major punishment just might be irrelevance and relative poverty.


  23. Deb, *hug* — I feel similar pain. It’s so easy to look back and say, “How could we have been so stupid? (gullible, naive, weak)” But so many people are saying that… I’m not using the “all the other people are doing it, so that must mean it’s a good thing” argument to justify bad choices, I’m honestly bewildered… and also afraid to trust my judgment. I mean, I know I have to leave this behind, it’s in the past, it cannot be changed — we don’t get a do-over, especially those of us whose children are adults, or older teens. Those “little years” are gone.

    But I feel like a boat adrift from its moorings. And I don’t think my dh is completely convinced that it was all wrong. He has gone from attending a hyper-patriarchal church to patriarchy-light (and still definitely very complementarian, the church at least). He still believes in the necessity of authority and hierarchy. He still craves respect, and wants… no, expects his teens to look up to him and defer to him because he works hard to earn the money that puts a roof over their heads and food on the table.

    Don’t get me wrong — I think he’s as confused as I am. He sat under more than 20 years of teaching that drilled it into his head that he needed to be the head of the family, that he needed to exercise authority, that he bore the ultimate responsibility for anything that went wrong. I think he’s still suffering under that. He’s also a product of the world he grew up in — where adults automatically deserved respect, just for the fact they were adults.


  24. Thank you, JA, for making this a “safe” place to read and comment and work through these issues.

    Thank you, Kathi. Yes, the VF stand at conventions promoted all kinds of ideas for christian living, their brand at least. Chivalrous, hard-working, adventurous boys. Feminine, sweet, compliant girls. Strong, authoritative dads/husbands. Submissive, supportive moms/wives. You nailed it, too. One particular book I remember seeing on that book table had to do with raising your sons to be knights. Others (for girls) had “Princess” and “King’s daughter” in the title. And yes, lots and lots about modesty.

    Lots of CDs by Doug Phillips and his cronies. S.M. Davis and Phillip Johnson are two names I remember.

    When we first started homeschooling, years ago, homeschool conventions were about practicalities of homeschooling and family life. Sometime along the way, the state leaders of our christian homeschooling organization sold out to these charlatans (or maybe I should say “bought in”) and the message became more and more about vision and roles.

    I wonder now if I would have been better off with the secular homeschooling organization. It might have been safer, in hindsight. The christian homeschooling community was sold to me with a message of fear, and so much of what we did was fear-based. Fear generates hate and intolerance. We are still loosely involved in the christian homeschool community (not for much longer, though), and they are some of the most intolerant, smug-in-their-ignorance people we know. Not to over-generalize — we do know some believers who are lovely and loving people. But they are hard to pick out in the crowd, sometimes.


  25. Refugee – “When we first started homeschooling, years ago, homeschool conventions were about practicalities of homeschooling and family life. Sometime along the way, the state leaders of our christian homeschooling organization sold out to these charlatans (or maybe I should say “bought in”) and the message became more and more about vision and roles.”
    YES!!! I attended our state’s Christian homeschool convention the summer before I homeschooled. They offered a “homeschooling 101″ class that talked about the laws of our state and a simple “how to get started.” Then I perused the vendors booths. I never went back after that (except for work once). I noticed that none of the sessions seemed to focus on training you to teach. They were more focused on relationships and roles within the home.
    Even as I look at the offerings for this year’s conference I see very little that is hands-on training for teaching.


  26. I see Gregg Harris among the speakers. He and Sono were huge influences in our lives. I threw away all the workshop tapes I had bought over the years. Maybe I should get a bumper sticker for the car. “Question authority.”

    Liked by 1 person

  27. To be fair, the conference workshops were divided into tracks. I always followed the “special needs” track, and also fit in where I could a few practical workshops on hands-on learning, multi-level teaching, and keeping up with the home, something I never got the hang of. I didn’t go to a whole lot of vision-themed workshops. Some of the practical workshops were extremely helpful. Much of the material, however, practical or philosophical, was infused with the patriarchal “vision” message, and roles, and authority and obedience, when I look back on it. Not all, but a majority, I’d say in retrospect.

    Thankfully we were out of town during last year’s conference and unable to attend. We have been volunteers at the state conference, and homeschool leaders, for more than a decade. Now I feel nauseous at the thought of it.


  28. Witch Hazel…it’s neither, nor are they stalling. They are actually in the pre-trial phase, which can be a lengthy process. Each side is allowed to obtain documents, answer interrogatories, and request depositions, using subpoenas if they have to. It’s all about the attorneys gathering information to defend or prosecute. As an example, most divorces can take over a year, so I don’t see this reaching any kind of conclusion soon. And you can bet that Dougie will appeal if he is ruled against. Who knows about the insurance company, though? I’m sure they’d want to distance themselves to avoid a payout, but perhaps they have additional info that has not been made public yet. I don’t foresee this going to trial until the end of the year, possibly next.


  29. Hello, has anyone ever heard what happened with this lawsuit? The supposed date for the hearing was in March 2016. But not hearing follow up makes me wonder was it settled quietly and a gag order set to shut up one or both parties?


  30. Cathryn, last I heard, they were in depositions. That was a couple of months ago I believe. I will definitely post something if I hear anything newsworthy.


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