Judge Holds Hearing on Motion to Disqualify Lead Attorney in Bill Gothard Case
CC image courtesy of Flickr, Joe Gratz.
By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator
On February 5, 2016, the attorneys for Bill Gothard and the Institute for Basic Life Principles (IBLP) filed motions with the Circuit Court of DuPage County, Illinois. These motions were to disqualify David C. Gibbs III from the court case Gretchen Wilkinson vs. Institute in Basic Life Principles, in which eighteen former employees and students are suing Gothard and IBLP over sexual abuse.
The motions featured two exhibits: sworn affidavits and documents that Gothard and IBLP believe show that Gibbs personally violated the Illinois Rules for Professional Conduct in his interactions with Gothard. Gothard’s affidavit, for example, included several emails between him and Gibbs that Gothard claims amount to legal advice. The other affidavit was from a witness who allegedly saw Gibbs communicate to Gothard that he would help reinstate him on the IBLP Board. The second affidavit additionally claimed that Gibbs offered to help Gothard derail the allegations against him.
Gibbs issued a statement in response to these motions on February 20. Gibbs alleged that, “Gothard was fully aware that I was the attorney for Lourdes Torres against Gothard’s protégé, Douglas Phillips, and Gothard was mentioned by name in that Texas lawsuit in April 2014.” While Gibbs admitted he is “guilty of aggressively representing my clients,” he denounced the motions as “a desperate attempt to attack the law firm that is publicly and legally holding [Gothard] accountable for years of child abuse.”
On Tuesday, May 3, Judge Kenneth L. Popejoy held a hearing on the motion to disqualify. During the hearing, IBLP’s attorneys denounced Gibbs for allegedly mishandling the case. Gibbs, in turn, argued that his involvement with Gothard was strictly on behalf of his plaintiffs. While Gibbs admitted that his goal was to get Gothard reinstated on the IBLP board, he claimed this was in order to better aid his clients.
HA obtained the official court transcripts of the hearing. You can view the transcripts here. Highlights from the hearing are listed below.
The judge will make a ruling on the motion to disqualify on Wednesday, May 11.
• IBLP’s attorney argued that Gibbs III was “working both sides of the street”:
Just very briefly, Judge, the problem is evident from Mr. Gibbs’ own brief where he admits he was, in the vernacular, working both sides of the street… At the very time that Mr. Gibbs is representing women who claim to have been sexually mistreated by Mr. Gothard while Mr. Gothard was in leadership at the Institute, David Gibbs, III, is helping Dr. Gothard get back into leadership at the Institute. That’s admitted. That’s not what is alleged. That is what is admitted. And also the reason for working both sides of the street is admitted, which is so when Gothard gets back in at the Institute, he can fund the settlement with my clients and me.
• Gibbs III “absolutely” wanted Gothard reinstated on the IBLP board:
THE COURT: But do you think part of the resolution or part of the pathway to resolution was in some manner trying to get Gothard back onto the board and dealing with the issues between Gothard and the board so that that issue would be done and set and then, given Gothard being back on the board, then having a resolution that could result in some satisfaction to your clients?
MR. GIBBS: Absolutely.
• Gibbs III denied the majority of the points in Gothard and IBLP’s affidavits
We won’t belabor the point, but I do want to say — and it’s in my affidavit — we vehemently deny the vast majority of what is in the affidavits. And both of them have begun by basically saying, you know, there’s statements that, in worst case, are perjury; best case, confusion, but the reality is the affidavits of both Gothard and Blair are factually unsupportable.
UPDATE, May 12: The judge has postponed his ruling on the motion to disqualify until May 20.
UPDATE, May 20: The judge has postponed his ruling on the motion to disqualify until May 31.