Jinger remembers laughing with her sisters at the mall while trying on a blonde wig as they joked about “getting headquarter ready.”
Which means, she writes, that blonde hair made them look like the “Girls of Gothard”: girls and young women, most with “long hair, big smiles, and petite body types,” many from single-parent homes “without a father.” or grandfather to guide and protect them,” who worked at the IBPL headquarters in Hillsdale, Illinois.
“For us, this was nothing more than a strange quirk of our little world,” Jinger writes. “Now, after everything that has happened in the last 10 years, I realize that the joke was not funny.”
Gothard would invite a girl to talk, she explains, and after a while he would “rub the women’s feet and hold their hands, both of which were strictly prohibited between an unmarried man and woman. Many of Gothard’s girls have said Gothard would touch them inappropriately or engage in explicit sexual activity. Ten of those women filed a lawsuit against Gothard in 2016.”
He resigned from the IPBL board in March 2014 amid a review by outside legal counsel of allegations that he had sexually harassed and abused women. In June 2014, the IBPL stated that the investigation determined that Gothard “acted inappropriately”, but did not commit any criminal acts. (Gothard said in a since-deleted statement: “My actions of holding hands, hugging, and touching my feet or hair with young ladies crossed the bounds of discretion and were wrong.”)
The 10 plaintiffs withdrew their lawsuit in 2018, but said in a joint statement to Recovering Grace: “We want to make it very clear that by dismissing our lawsuit at this time, we are not taking back our experiences or discounting the untold harm we believe Gothard has done. with their actions and certain teachings. We are also not ignoring that their organization chose to protect themselves rather than those in their care.”
Gothard, now 88, has denied any wrongdoing and claims on his website that the same women who accused him of sexual misconduct “wrote wonderful letters of appreciation to me over those 20 years, thanking me for ‘being their best friend,’ ‘carrying over the turning point’ in their lives, and ‘providing them with help and encouragement’ that they will always remember. There was never a hint of bullying because there wasn’t.”
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