Jinger duggar 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 IBLP 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 women’s feet and hold their hands, things that were strictly forbidden between an unmarried man and woman. Many of Gothard’s girls have said Gothard would touch them inappropriately or engage in sexually explicit activities.Ten of those ladies filed a lawsuit against Gothard in 2016.”
He resigned from the IBLP board in March 2014 amid a review by outside legal counsel of allegations that he had sexually harassed and abused women. In June 2014, IBLP stated that the investigation determined that Gothard “acted inappropriately”, but committed no 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 complaint 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 retracting our experiences or dismissing the untold harm we believe Gothard has caused through his actions and certain teachings. We are also not ignorant that your organization chose to protect themselves in place of those under his care”.
Gothard, now 88, has denied any wrongdoing. stating on their website that the same women who accused him of sexual misconduct “had written me wonderful letters of gratitude during those 20 years, thanking me for ‘being their best friend,’ ‘causing the turning point’ in their lives, and ‘providing help and encouragement'” that they will always remember. There was never a hint of bullying because there wasn’t.”
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