Doug Phillips, Vision Forum, Sex Abuse Lawsuit, Lourdes Torres, Clergy Sex Abuse, David C. Gibbs III
On October 30, 2013, Doug Phillips, President of Vision Forum Ministries, stepped down from his position and issued this public statement:
In June of 2016, I posted about the conclusion of the lawsuit: it was dismissed and settled: Doug Phillips: The Sex Abuse Lawsuit Conclusion and Epilogue of His Vision Forum Shipwreck
Interestingly, exactly three years and one day later after Doug Phillips’ resignation, whoever mans the Vision Forum page on Facebook has posted their version of an update about the sex abuse lawsuit brought on by Plaintiff Lourdes Torres. You can click on the image below which will take you directly to the original Facebook page. I will also be posting images of the FB post in case it is removed. You’ll have to scroll down quite a bit to read more.
I spent an hour on the phone with Lourdes Torres on Tuesday (11/4/16), the Plaintiff in this case. After speaking with her, I have some important questions and thoughts concerning the Statement. In speaking with her, and in acknowledging that I also had a working relationship with David C. Gibbs III, I feel I can piece together things that were not said. You can take them with a grain of salt, but having had long conversations with Gibbs and now Lourdes, I think they are worth considering.
Okay, first off, why in the world is the Vision Forum Facebook page still active? The ministry is shut down, the employees are long gone. It is apparent that he is trying to make a comeback to his large fan base of people who still have “liked” his Vision Forum page. What a perfect way to make a re-entry!
But why is this Statement coming out now, when the lawsuit was settled 6 months ago? I suspect that he intentionally waited until 3 years after his resignation, on October 31, 2016 (on Halloween????). He knows people will be counting. Three years sounds good, doesn’t it? Now, keep in mind, we haven’t heard much of anything except that he and his family joined a “normal” church, a church that he would have criticized earlier because his new church does not fit the mold he insisted was the right kind of “biblical” church: family-integrated, not age-segregated, no youth groups, etc. So, all of you who followed his lead on how evil traditional churches are, just throw that away. He’s doing it, why can’t you?
Okay, let’s move on to the wording in the Statement. Before getting started, it’s important to note that Doug Phillips is a lawyer. He may not be practicing law now, but he definitely knows legalese. He knows how to word things in order to sway opinions; that is what lawyers do. Hello, are you with me?? Phillips is counting on readers to be fools and not know how to interpret his words. After all, the way he words things makes it look like he is innocent of any sexual harm done to Lourdes. Now that we are considering that the Statement was most likely written by Doug Phillips, or at least approved of by him, we need to have a common understanding of legal terms.
In the first paragraph, we see that the litigation “has been settled and dismissed with prejudice.”
What does that mean?
Dismissed with prejudice means that a civil lawsuit has been dismissed based on merits of the case after a judgement has been issued. When a case is dismissed with prejudice, the plaintiff is barred from filing a lawsuit on the same issue at a later date. To explore this concept, consider the dismissed with prejudice definition. (Source)
At the legaldictionary.net site, it also says, “A civil lawsuit may be dismissed without completing the process and obtaining a judgment.” This is so crucial to understand. We also see the word “settled” in the Statement. When we see both words together, we have an understanding that the case was settled, and that is why it did not complete the court process, nor received a judgment. So . . . in other words, Doug Phillips did not have to go to court to deal with witness testimonies. He did not have to be questioned about his sexual abuse AT ALL. This doesn’t mean that Doug was innocent. It simply means that by settling, they interrupted the normal court proceeding IN ORDER TO AVOID a complicated court process which could have opened up all kinds of dirt on Doug Phillips. Doug Phillips is no fool. Everyone I have spoken with about Mr. Phillips knows that he would never want to go to court and be figuratively naked, exposing his sexual behavior to the world.
You will notice great attention given to the part about Lourdes removing statements from the original lawsuit. We are only getting Doug Phillip’s side. For some reason or other, Gibbs has not released a statement about Phillips. Mr. Gibbs has been absolutely quiet on the settlement. Hmm, could that be because Attorney David C. Gibbs III got in legal hot water in another case representing victims of Bill Gothard? He was removed from that case and it is important to note that the Torres/Phillips dismissal and settlement occurred right around the same time. (See Attorney Representing Victims of Bill Gothard Disqualified; Support for Survivors.)
Moving along, let’s take a closer look at this quote from the Statement:
“On March 26, 2015, my interrogatory answers asserted that Douglas Phillips ejaculated on me and ejaculated on my face. On November 3, 2015 I served amended interrogatory answers which removed those statements.”
The only information we are given is that Lourdes agreed to remove the above sentence. This lawsuit was settled which means that both parties had to come to agreement and this requires give and take on both sides. It does not necessarily mean that the action did not take place. We simply do not know. What we do know is that removing that sentence made it possible for the case to be settled.
I have not alleged sexual intercourse between me and Douglas Phillips or that he molested me as a minor.
Let’s look at what this above sentence does NOT say. It does not say that Douglas Phillips did not sexually abuse or objectify Lourdes Torres. It simply says there was no intercourse, and that any sexual contact did not occur when she was a minor. That does not say that she was not sexually molested as an adult. It does not say she was not sexually groomed as a minor.
We certainly cannot say that because Lourdes amended the lawsuit and removed that particular wording, that sexual abuse did not happen! But notice how the wording makes it appear that sexual abuse did not happen. This is classic manipulative wording meant to clear his name.
Vision Forum and Mr. Phillips continue to deny all allegations made by Torres in her various pleadings and elsewhere.
Well, that is ridiculous. If that’s the case, then he is denying his own public confession. In Doug Phillips clarification Statement which was released two weeks after his original public confessional statement, he says this (I bolded important part):
My sin has resulted in great pain within the Body of Christ, some confusion, and has given the enemies of God reason to rejoice. This is heartbreaking to me. Some have suggested that my sin was not sufficiently serious to step down. Let me be clear: it absolutely does merit my resignation. My resignation is sincere and necessary given the weightiness of my sin. Some reading the words of my resignation have questioned if there was an inappropriate physical component with an unmarried woman. There was, and it was intermittent over a period of years.
He cannot say he denies all allegations and also admit to “inappropriate physical component with an unmarried women.” What he is doing is trying to clear his name entirely from ANY wrongdoing with Lourdes. Do you get that? Three years ago, he ADMITTED to wrongdoing, and now, he’s denying it???? Is he thinking we would forget?
Vision Forum and Mr. Phillips deny any liability to Torres and no admission of liability was made as part of the resolution of the case.
Ok, this is how a public relations person words things. It’s horse doo doo. Let me try to reword it for you in more appropriate lingo:
JA wording: Because this case was dismissed and settled out of court, and we had to pay the plaintiff a boatload of $$$, we can say whatever we want about this case. We can deny anything and everything, and we don’t have to admit to anything because that is what it means when cases are settled.
Mr. Phillips observed as follows: “I am very pleased to be in a new chapter of our lives, and for this resolution.”
Yea, right. Insert massive eye roll here. Listen, Mr. Phillips. The only new chapter of your life is that you are trying to get on with life in the public sphere without your Vision Forum
“ministry.” The reality is that with this ridiculous unrepentant Statement, you have denied ANY responsibility for harming Lourdes Torres, you expect your blind followers to read your words as you are innocent, and you will continue to manipulate others as you have always done. Shame on YOU!
Where do you show responsibility for the harm you caused? Where do you show concern and care for Lourdes? If you cared for her, you would never say anything publicly that could cause more pain. She was disgusted by this Statement. That alone should tell you something.
And that picture of Doug Phillips included on the Facebook page post – – – who does that after such a shameful “ministry” history? The first sign that we look for in a repentant man is humility and there is no humility represented in that picture.
Frankly, this new public Statement is inexcusable. It shows the nature of his unrepentant heart. Any man who is repentant would never publish something like this. He would care for the harm he caused his victim and would not want her to experience more pain. This is a narcissist who waited 3 yrs and has been itching to get back in the spotlight again. I spoke with Lourdes yesterday. She is disgusted by the Statement. That alone should tell you something.