Five women have filed a lawsuit against the Institute in Basic Life Principles, whose founder resigned last year amid allegations that he sexually harassed more than 30 women, accusing the organization and its board of directors of not reporting incidents of sexual abuse and harassment, "wilfully" concealing the wrongdoing.
The lawsuit, filed in DuPage County Circuit Court in Illinois, claims that IBLP, its employees and directors "frequently received reports" of "sexual abuse, sexual harassment and inappropriate/unauthorized touching," according to The Washington Post.
They board of directors never reported "these serious, potentially criminal allegations to law enforcement authorities or the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services."
The women - Gretchen Wilkinson, Charis Barker, Rachel Frost, Rachel Lees and Jane Doe - resorted to legal action after the organization's board of directors "rather stubbornly and in my opinion rather arrogantly basically challenged the girls to bring the case," according to David Gibbs III, the plaintiffs' attorney.
The board "is not operating in a spirit of transparency or openness," Gibbs added.
The lawsuit also alleges that "the internal investigation and the fee paid resulted in an internal investigation that was pre-ordained and nothing more than a cover-up of the allegations of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and inappropriate/unauthorized touching that occurred at the Defendant IBLP."
The women have demanded $250,000, or $50,000 each, in damages, and urged the court to impose a "constructive trust" on IBLP's assets so that its leaders wouldn't be able to liquidate resources estimated at more than $100 million by relocating to Texas "in an attempt to flee the jurisdiction (state of Illinois) where this wrongful conduct occurred."
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are allegedly close friends of the organization's founder and longtime president, Bill Gothard, who resigned last year after allegations made by more than 30 women that he had sexually harassed them.
The lawsuit quotes the organization, which was originally known for being a leader in the Christian homeschooling movement, as saying earlier: "At this point, based upon those willing to be interviewed, no criminal activity has been discovered. It if had been, it would have been reported to the proper authorities immediately, as it will be in the future if any such activity is revealed. ... However, the review showed that Mr. Gothard has acted in an inappropriate manner, and the board realizes the seriousness of his lack of discretion and failure to follow Christ's example of being blameless and above reproach."
Gothard founded the institute in 1961. Its website says it was "established for the purpose of introducing people to the Lord Jesus Christ, and is dedicated to giving individuals, families, churches, schools, communities, governments, and businesses clear instruction and training on how to find success by following God's principles found in Scripture."