From ‘cult’ leader to disgraced outcast: FEMAIL reveals what happened to the man behind the Duggars’ sinister religion – who ‘turned every father into a cult leader’, told parents to beat their kids – then found himself shunned over sexual assault scandal

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When the Duggars were shot to fame thanks to their TLC reality show, they portrayed a picture perfect and wholesome family – which they insisted was thanks to their participation in the fundamentalist religious group known as The Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP).

But the bizarre Christian organization’s idealistic image was quickly shattered in 2014, when more than 30 women came forward and accused leader Bill Gothard of sexual harassment, 10 of whom later filed a lawsuit against him and the church, in which they claimed he had inappropriately touched them.

Around that time, it was also brought to light that the eldest Duggar son, Josh, had molested four of his younger sisters and that his own parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, knew and failed to report the abuse to police.

The incidents lead to numerous other ex-members speaking out against IBLP, and ultimately resulted in Bill being shunned from the organization. But what happened to the disgraced minister after he parted ways with the ‘cult-like’ religious group?

Well, a former member has revealed as part of Amazon Prime’s new documentary, Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets, that she went to visit Bill, now 88, after he was ousted from the group – and what she discovered was very eye-opening.

The woman, named Brooke Arnold, explained in the four-part series, which premiered on June 2, that she decided to meet with Bill at his home in Chicago in 2018 – four years after he left IBLP.

‘Bill Gothard used to speak to stadiums every week and now he just sits alone in his house,’ she said.‘He came to loom over my life, even as an adult. He was like this kind of Peter Pan-like character living in the home he’s lived in his entire life.’

Brooke revealed that Bill was ‘waiting at the front door’ when she arrived, wearing a ‘full suit and tie.’

He had done his hair. His entire living room was covered in boxes, which were filled with copies of the 37 self-published books that he’s written,’ she continued.

‘We sit down and he says he wants to pray for me. So he looks at the floor and closes his eyes and I look at the floor and close my eyes.’

Brooke explained that she decided to open her eyes while they were ‘praying’ – and was stunned to see that his were no longer shut either, and he was actually staring right at her.

‘I realized, “Why am I pretending right now?” So I open my eyes and when I do, he’s looking at me. His eyes are open,’ she continued.

‘It was kind of like looking the devil in the eye. At that moment, everything made sense to me. It was just a man the whole time.’

Bill started IBLP in 1961, and it began as a ‘local youth outreach’ in Chicago, Illinois, with a focus on ‘affirming God’s Word and its principles which are vital to one’s daily walk with Christ.’

As it grew, he started creating a series of very-rigorous ‘guidelines’ for members, which controlled almost every aspect of their lives, including how they could dress to what they were allowed to watch on TV and what music they were supposed to listen to.

Barbie dolls, Pokemon cards, and anything made by Disney were all prohibited. Any songs that had a fast beat were believed to be linked to the devil. And Cabbage Patch Dolls were considered satanic.

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