Bill Gothard, the now-disgraced evangelical fundamentalist, hasn't been particularly vocal since his followers, the Duggar family, became enmeshed in a sexual abuse scandal involving their oldest son, Josh, and several of their daughters. But now, the former head of the Institute in Basic Life Principles -- a role from which he resigned because of his own alleged sexual misconduct -- is speaking out about his role in handling Duggar's abusive behavior, which involved recommending plenty of "lust counseling" and...carpentry.
In an interview with the Daily Mail (so, take that for what you will), Gothard details the "cleansing" the eldest Duggar experienced at an IBLP training center in Little Rock, where the then-15-year-old joined several other young men in a construction project run by Harold Walker, a Christian training leader. According to Gothard, it was in Walker's care that Duggar "became a Christian" and "found salvation"; he also received special one-on-one "faith counseling" in order to be "cleansed" of his sexually impure thoughts and actions.
It's that last part -- the sexual thoughts and actions -- that Gothard describes in a most interesting (read: deeply troubling) way in his interview. Via the Daily Mail:
"The fact is he did touch his younger sisters, he was a teenager at the time, he touched them in the wrong places which was totally wrong but the sisters weren't even aware of it." [...]
Gothard confirmed that Josh had carried out the abuse by sneaking in to his sibling's bedrooms late at night while they were sleeping and fondling them over their night clothes. Duggar's sisters, it is claimed, were completely unaware of their brother's vile actions.
"Josh acknowledges it, he tells his parents and they tell the sisters and that was the first time they have learned about it. Same thing with the babysitter, she didn't know about it."
He added: "This is really quite different to what you think. It has been overblown, it is not like he is a sexual predator, he was a teenage boy.
"What he did, touching over the clothing, is not nearly what you think it is. It was wrong, but unfortunately there's a lot of this going on in many families today."
After diminishing the severity of Duggar's abusive behavior, Gothard went on to describe the ways in which lust "can have a positive or negative affect [sic] on the body," claiming that "whoremongers" can be adversely affected by overly lustful hormonal urges. The dozen-plus Duggar children, including Josh, would have learned Gothard's lesson from the disgraced homeschool leaders' Advanced Training Institute curriculum, which parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have endorsed heavily.
In addition to discussing Duggar's healing-through-carpentry with Gothard, the Daily Mail also visited the camp where Walker supposedly provided counsel, only to discover that the center appears to have been out of use for the past decade. The report, which is terrifying, is actually worth reading in full. Read it here.