Attorney Representing Victims of Bill Gothard Disqualified; Support for Survivors

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.

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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.

You can read Judge Popejoy’s full decision here.

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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. photo-16We 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.

 

 

 

 

29 comments on “Attorney Representing Victims of Bill Gothard Disqualified; Support for Survivors

  1. This is really tough. I think Gibbs III was trying to wear too many hats. There seemed to be an overwhelming desire to settle the case out of court, which meant he would have been asked to take a mediatorial role. In addition, I think he realized that Gothard was not a lawsuit target outside of IBLP, because he has no assets of his own.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Gibbs III misrepresented his clients. It seems rather that he did too much to represent his clients, and not enough to make sure that he was squeaky clean, especially since he had prior relationships with the defendants.

    I hope that the other members of the defense counsel are able to fill in for him, since this is obviously a huge blow to their case.

    This is a pretty strong warning to Christians, though. Once you decide to take the case to court, the time to settle it among the brethren is over.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mark, Gibbs represented the plaintiffs. By using the word “misrepresentation,” I’m referring to how he was maneuvering with Gothard, etc. I’m pretty certain he did not disclose to his clients that he was working behind the scenes and connecting with Gothard.

    When I was involved in a lawsuit, my attorney kept me abreast of all that she was doing and explained things along the way. There were no surprises. I’m not sure that is the case here.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. To all the survivors — (((hugs if you want them))))

    To Julie Anne — well done, your comments are spot on. I honour and stand with you and with all survivors who long for vindication and justice.

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  4. Are IBLP’s attorneys prepping for Got Hard’s return in Triumph?
    “AVE, CAESAR! IO TRIOMPHE!”

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  5. @JA, I didn’t read whether his clients were aware of his negotiations in the court documents. If he was doing that without their approval, he was definitely misrepresenting them.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Well, this is interesting. I know that many had misgivings about him from the start, and here we are today. I hate to say this but they might be better represented by an objective non-Christian attorney with a track record of success in this type of suit.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Attorneys aren’t supposed to contact another party who is represented by legal counsel. They are supposed to communicate with the party’s attorney(s) only.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. @Velour, that was one of the things the judge mentioned, but BG wasn’t claiming representation at that point. He was trying to get free legal advice from Gibbs III. The code of ethics for lawyers (according to the court documents) is that Gibbs III should have simply recommended that BG get representation.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. More info today over at Homeschoolers Anonymous.

    From their profile of Gibbs, the guy sounds as corrupt as Got Hard.
    Looks like with his disqualification, The Fix WAS In instead of The Fix Is In.
    So now what?
    Besides Got Hard wiping his mouth and announcing “I have not Sinned” while IBLP blows long trumpets before Him for His triumphant return?

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  10. @HUG, thanks, that was a very thorough analysis on HA. It does suggest that Gibbs wasn’t operating completely with his clients’ best interests in mind. One thing that is encouraging is that the judge said Gibbs III would probably have to testify, which means under oath, about what fixing he was trying to do.

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  11. “Mark, Gibbs represented the plaintiffs. By using the word “misrepresentation,” I’m referring to how he was maneuvering with Gothard, etc. I’m pretty certain he did not disclose to his clients that he was working behind the scenes and connecting with Gothard.

    When I was involved in a lawsuit, my attorney kept me abreast of all that she was doing and explained things along the way. There were no surprises. I’m not sure that is the case here.”
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………….

    These actions sound an awful lot like the behind the scenes maneuvers and backroom deals that often occur among so-called Christian leaders and luminaries who think they’re on a higher plane than the common rabble, who cannot be expected to understand the higher things of The Mission or The Kingdom Life or whatever euphemisms they use for Machiavellian scheming, so they simply are left in the dark. Sounds a lot like Plato’s Republic or fascist conniving–sounds nothing at all like the behavior of a Christian who takes seriously Jesus’ admonition that whispers in inner rooms would be shouted from rooftops. Perhaps this Christian attorney, who probably thought he was acting in his clients’ best interests by allegedly keeping them in the dark learned too well from the likes of Gothard.

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  12. I know the judge’s latest ruling must be difficult for the plaintiffs in the case against Gothard and IBLP. I hope they will quickly find an attorney to represent them, and that the lawsuit will move forward soon. Don’t give up on pursing justice.

    More info today over at Homeschoolers Anonymous.

    HA did an excellent job researching for that article!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. @TD, whether his clients were aware/approved of his maneuvers is not discussed in the court materials. I was assuming that his maneuvering with Gothard and IBLP was intended to produce better results for his clients, or that the maneuvering was intended (at his clients’ behest) to come up with an agreement that would guarantee Gothard didn’t return to IBLP. I know that was a big deal at Recovering Grace.

    But, if this was done without the knowledge and approval of his clients, then it is obviously misrepresentation, and the judge did the plaintiffs a huge favor by disqualifying him.

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  14. Is Gibbs III really guilty of misrepresentation, or was this just a ploy by Gothard’s lawyers to get him disqualified? I wonder if perhaps Gibbs III was doing a decent job of representing the plantiff’s interests, and Gothard’s lawyers wanted to get him out of the way. Gothard’s lawyers wouldn’t be likely to want to disqualify Gibbs III if he was doing a poor job of representing the plantiffs.

    However, this sounded strange, “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.”

    I’m not sure how getting Gothard reinstated would help his clients. Unless he thought that having Gothard back on the board strengthened the case against the board. If that’s the case, I can see where Gothard and his lawyers would be upset and want him disqualified, but not why it would bother the plaintiffs. (Except that his machinations got him disqualified.)

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  15. Even Facebook lets you edit posts and comments now! 🙂

    JA note: So does SSB, but JA has to do it 🙂 I fixed it for ya!

    Like

  16. Most corporations indemnify their executives and board members, which means that, if Gothard were not part of IBLP and a named defendant, they really can’t sue him for much, but if he is back in the organization, IBLP would have to pay damages relating to his work at IBLP. I don’t know what would happen if the lawsuit was against Bill Gothard when he was running IBLP – whether they would have to pay or not.

    But, yes, that was my original theory – that Gibbs caught them with their pants down somehow and they were fighting back by trying to get him disqualified.

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  17. Praying that they’ll find a good, honest lawyer soon, and also that this will not unduly interfere with the process of recovery. I’m not a lawyer, but I’m going to guess that this will impact the evidence they’re able to present and will delay the process by about a year.

    I am not, however, terribly worried that Mr. Gothard will re-take the reins of IBLP–he, and the “ministry”, are probably mostly irrelevant now. What I’m afraid of is that his ideas will be recycled and regain credibility without the taint of what he did, just as Gothard himself appears to have done some “environmentally conscious” recycling of bad theological ideas. I’m definitely on the lookout for that.

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  18. You are probably right, Bike Bubba. He has been busy since he left. He’s written a handful of books and has started at least one new ptoject using his old connections (and KoolAid drinkers).

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  19. It is hard to know what to say. One wishes for justice to be done for those who suffered. Yet, in reading the documents from the first and second filings of the lawsuit, I had doubts of the viability of the case being brought. Why, for example, did the rape accusation in the first filing disappear from the second? Was it because the lawyer decided the case had more of a chance without the accusation? That would indicate that the lawyer had not done a good job of establishing the facts and arguments the first time around. It looked like sloppy handling.

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  20. Sounds to me like Bill knew what he was doing and Gibbs 111 underestimated Bill’s ability to manipulate and sabotage while obsficating the whole procedure. Bill only cares about his image.

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  21. I think Gibbs planned this whole outcome. I think Gibbs’ entire purpose in muddying the waters professionally and entangling himself with Gothard was to derail the lawsuit. Gibbs is a True Believer.

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  22. Pingback: Doug Phillips Releases Statement Attempting to Appear Innocent of All Sexual Allegations Against Him after Lawsuit Settlement | Spiritual Sounding Board

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