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I went home at the end of October for a week, and Bill called and talked to me daily.
I told my mom about what was happening, and she told me I was lying.
My father was so deep into Gothard’s teachings, and he preached them so much, that his church board had issues with it. He blamed this on the board not being willing to grow. My parents portrayed me to Bill as a sexual, rebellious teen who needed help—but I had only kissed a boy. Bill told them he would give me intensive counseling. I was a temptation to men; Bill Gothard told me that I had tempted my own father.
I have my own theory of why he was forced out, though. He had been forced out of churches in California and New Jersey for taking indecent liberties with young girls. My father’s sexual abuse of me didn’t start until we moved to a pastorate in New Jersey, when I was seven years old and got my own room. Bill would call me into his office for “counseling and teaching.” I was open about my relationship with my boyfriend. I loved to be barefooted, and he would always comment on the shades of polish on my toes. He wanted all the details of my past sexual experiences. I craved Bill’s attention but felt guilty about the increasing touches he gave me.
I was born in 1975, and from the get go I was told that I was special—the seventh child, God’s perfect number—and that I owed my life to Bill Gothard.
My three brothers who were closest to me in age were attending college back in Indiana at the time, but my parents pulled them out of college when we joined ATI. I was in awe as I listened to the man whom I had been told was responsible for me being alive tell my parents that he wanted me to come to Headquarters. The youngest of seven children, a preacher’s daughter? I fussed so much about wanting to be outside that I became one of the first girls to work on the landscape crew. He pushed me to take a job near him, inside, but I wouldn’t.
One of my brothers went straight to the IBLP Headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, to help with landscaping. What did I have to offer him, this man whom my mother almost worshiped and my father would preach about in his sermons? By mid-August I was at IBLP Headquarters by his request. My parents had told Bill about my attitude, about the boy I was seeing, and about how immoral we were for simply kissing. He knew what my father had done to me, but he called me into repentance for my own sins without confronting my father or addressing his sin.
Bill arranged my flight back to O’Hare so we could ride back to Headquarters in the car together.
That’s when he first put his hand between my legs and felt me all the way up. My brother started hearing things and asked me about it. Bill had sworn me to silence with both guilt and fear.
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They said that I was wrong—Bill would never hug a girl, and that I shouldn’t make claims that weren’t true. A short time after that meeting, I was walking home alone when a car pulled up beside me. He told me that what happened between us needed to stay between us.