David C. Gibbs III, Bill Gothard, Sex Abuse, IBLP, ATI, Lawsuit
There have been very important developments in the sex abuse lawsuit against Institute for Basic Life Principles and Bill Gothard. David C. Gibbs III, the attorney representing the plaintiffs – the victims of alleged sex abuse by Bill Gothard – has been disqualified from representing the plaintiffs.
Ryan Stollar of Homeschoolers Anonymous (HA) has been reporting the details.
Special thanks to R. L. Stollar of Homeschoolers Anonymous (HA) blog, for granting permission to reprint the following article originally published May 23, 2016. Additional comments following the article are by Julie Anne.
On May 20, the judge in the court case Gretchen Wilkinson vs. Institute in Basic Life Principles disqualified David C. Gibbs III from representing his clients.
Attorneys for Bill Gothard and the Institute for Basic Life Principles (IBLP) filed motions in February with the Circuit Court of DuPage County, Illinois. These motions were to disqualify Gibbs III from the court case Gretchen Wilkinson vs. Institute in Basic Life Principles, in which eighteen former employees and students are suing Gothard and IBLP over sexual abuse.
The motions featured two exhibits: sworn affidavits and documents that Gothard and IBLP believe show that Gibbs personally violated the Illinois Rules for Professional Conduct in his interactions with Gothard. Gibbs issued a statement in response to these motions on February 20. Gibbs alleged that, “Gothard was fully aware that I was the attorney for Lourdes Torres against Gothard’s protégé, Douglas Phillips, and Gothard was mentioned by name in that Texas lawsuit in April 2014.” While Gibbs admitted he is “guilty of aggressively representing my clients,” he denounced the motions as “a desperate attempt to attack the law firm that is publicly and legally holding [Gothard] accountable for years of child abuse.”
On Tuesday, May 3, Judge Kenneth L. Popejoy held a hearing on the motion to disqualify. During the hearing, IBLP’s attorneys condemned Gibbs for allegedly mishandling the case. Gibbs, in turn, argued that his involvement with Gothard was strictly on behalf of his plaintiffs. While Gibbs admitted that his goal was to get Gothard reinstated on the IBLP board, he claimed this was in order to better aid his clients.
HA obtained the official court transcripts of the hearing. You can view the transcripts here.
Three days ago on May 20, Judge Popejoy ruled in favor of the motion to disqualify. In the ruling, the judge stated that,
Attorney Gibbs had intimate, professional and personal interactions with all of the parties to this case at various times within the calendar year of 2015! He discussed issues of dispute between defendants IBLP and Gothard and prepared bullet points on behalf of one of the trustees for IBLP as it pertained to Gothard. He met with Gothard and had various communications with Gothard in May 2015 and thereafter. In November 2015, he prepared an affidavit for Gothard to sign and clearly obtained information from that affidavit directly from Gothard. He also clearly knew that Mr. Gothard’s interest were in conflict with those of his individual clients as is referenced by the allegations against Gothard, although not a party in the original complaint filed in October 2015. Then, after preparing and forwarding that affidavit to Gothard, attorney Gibbs obviously knew that Gothard was going to be an additional defendant in an amended complaint filed in January 2016. Whether the actions of attorney Gibbs are “strict” ethical violations of the Illinois Code of Professional Responsibility or not, there is clearly a clouded, convoluted and inappropriate set of interactions that attorney Gibbs had among the entire set of circumstances and parties pertaining to the litigation now pending before this Court. Therefore, it is completely and utterly inappropriate for attorney Gibbs to continue as legal counsel for the plaintiffs.
Julie Anne here.
Many people have expressed concerns about Attorney David C. Gibbs III representing victims. Two years ago, I reported on the Lourdes Torres vs. Doug Phillips lawsuit and there was a lot of misinformation spread around because Gibbs III’s father shares the same name and is also an attorney. Both attorneys worked on cases in which they defended abusers and victims. SSB sought to clarify misinformation about the father and son, and Gibbs III provided information to SSB, so the information came straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
SSB’s role has always been to support victims, period. We do not know why Lourdes Torres or the survivors of Bill Gothard selected Gibbs III to represent them. And that’s okay. But the main message I have tried to present is that regardless of who you or I would have chosen, they made this choice, and the most important job we can do is support the survivors.
Sadly, the judge has made it pretty clear that Gibbs III did not act within the best interest of his clients. Gibbs III will have to answer for this.
So where are we now? We have a group of survivors who will need representation. I’m not aware that they currently have representation, but have read that they have been offered representation.
The actions taken by Gibbs III and noted in the court documents show recklessness and a violation of trust. I’m troubled by the findings. When someone agrees to take on a case of this nature, there must be due diligence. Additionally, care for the survivors should be of utmost importance. This Christian attorney said he would help them, and they were let down, abandoned, and perhaps even used for his advantage. This may have have reopened familiar wounds for them.
It has been a very long journey for the survivors. It took several years of going public before some decided to take legal action. That was a huge step. To even talk with an attorney and relive their pain has surely been difficult. Now what? They have to repeat that process once again, but with a new attorney?
Their taking on Bill Gothard and IBLP was huge. It is not their fault Gibbs III was disqualified. Their story is still as important as ever and I hope they will continue to fight to the end. Their willingness to come forward with their stories brought worldwide attention to the wrongdoings of Gothard. They are my heroes. We will never know how many lives they have affected by their collective effort to come forward. Thank you, IBLP survivors!!! We care about you.
I am sure many of the survivors are numb or experiencing a wide range of emotions since the judge’s ruling. I think it’s important for them to hear from those who support them and want to stand with them. Let’s use this post to express our thoughts about what has occurred, but also to encourage the survivors.