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Teen victims say Duggar pastor preyed on rape survivors who sought his help: ‘It’s just evil’

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In exclusive interviews with the New York Daily News, survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of a Duggar family pastor detail how the Christian leader recruited them from their parents and preyed upon rape victims who came to him seeking help.

Bill Gothard, 81, who previously ran the Institute in Basic Life Principles which heavily influenced the lifestyle of the Christian reality show Duggar family, is currently the subject of a lawsuit filed in Illinois by eight women against board members of the IBLP and Gothard. It was an IBLP center that Josh Duggar was sent to for treatment after he was caught molesting his sisters.

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According to Joy Simmons and Jennifer Spurlock, they were abused by Gothard after they were shipped off to stay with him following sexual assaults by other men affiliated with his ministry.

“To have your education ripped from you and to have your childhood ripped from you, it’s extremely difficult. It’s just evil,” said Spurlock, who was 15 when she began working for and traveling with Gothard, who kept her from attending school.

Spurlock said she was sent to an IBLP training center in Indianapolis by her family after she was sexually assaulted by a man receiving counseling at a Christian center. It was there that she caught Gothard’s eye.

“Mr. Gothard was just staring right at me, so much so that other girls would say ‘you’re so lucky, he couldn’t take his eyes off of you,’” Spurlock explained, before adding how the abuse from the pastor began.

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“It started sitting on the sofa hip-to-hip, spreading his legs and touching my knees and smelling my hair,” Spurlock said, adding that Gothard then began “rubbing her thighs and in my vaginal area” over her clothes.

According to Simmons, Gothard touched her while they prayed together and would probe her to reveal intimate details of her sexual assault during their counseling sessions.

“He would also tell me that it was my fault that I was assaulted and he would ask God to cleanse me,” Simmons said, adding that the Christian leader told her, “since I didn’t cry out, I was just as guilty as the guy who assaulted me.”

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Simmons stated that the girls — who came to be known as “Gothard girls” — were kept isolated, stating: “No friends, no way out, no education. We were pretty stuck.”

Gothard, a friend to politicians and the Green family who own the Hobby Lobby stores, stepped down from IBLP in 2014 after the allegations became public.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Texas governor busted sending racist call-to-arms a day before El Paso attack: ‘take matters into our own hands’

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On Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) tweeted out a message of unity and promised to work to reduce violence in his state, in the wake of the shooting in El Paso that left 22 dead and dozens more injured:

Today we had hearings responding to the tragic shooting in El Paso.

We focused on community healing, combating domestic terrorism, reducing hateful ideologies, & keeping guns out of hands of deranged killers while respecting 2nd Amendment rights.

We’ll keep TX safe.#txlege pic.twitter.com/ymct4aiSgK

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Facebook bans far-right website from pro-Trump advertising after they try to skirt transparency rules

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On Thursday, NBC News reported that Facebook has banned the Epoch Times from placing political advertisements, after the right-wing website tried to conceal its multimillion-dollar dark money streams and get around the social network's political advertising transparency rules in its propaganda supporting President Donald Trump.

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GOP leaders are pressuring Kansas Republican to resign from Congress immediately: report

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On Thursday, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Republicans in Kansas and Washington are pressuring Rep. Steve Watkins (R-KS) to step down after just eight months in office.

It is currently unclear why they are calling for his resignation.

Watkins has thus far given no indications he will leave office. His spokesman Jim Joice stated that he has no plans to resign, and disputed the idea that Republican officials are pressuring him to do so, but acknowledged there have been conversations around the topic.

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