A prominent leader in the conservative Christian homeschooling movement was accused of sexual abuse and rape in a lawsuit filed Wednesday by 10 former members of his ministry, The Washington Post reported.
The suit alleges that Bill Gothard, the former head of the Institute in Basic Life Principles, sexually abused some of the women and concealed sexual abuse committed against other young women by family members. One unnamed plaintiff also alleged that Gothard raped her after she reported to the ministry that she had been raped by her father, according to the report.
Gothard told the Post on Wednesday that the rape and sexual harassment allegations against him were false.
“That’s horrible,” he said. “Never in my life have I touched a girl sexually. I’m shocked to even hear that.”
Gothard, who is 81 years old and has never been married, resigned from the ministry in 2014 after more than 30 women accused him of molesting and sexually harassing women he worked with at the ministry.
His teachings—which rely upon absolute submission to patriarchal authority—were given a national platform by the Duggar family in their TLC show “19 Kids And Counting.” GOP presidential candidate and Duggar ally Mike Huckabee has also made public appearances with the Christian leader.
After it was reported last summer that the Duggars’ eldest son, Josh, molested five underage girls when he was a teenager, the IBLP’s culture came under renewed scrutiny. As TPM reported at the time, former members of the IBLP have said they were taught to obey ministry authorities and relatives even if they were enduring sexual abuse at their hands.
The 10 plaintiffs in the lawsuit are each seeking at least $50,000 in damages, according to The Post.