Willow Creek Church, a large and influential church located near Chicago, has been the focus of growing allegations of sexual misconduct and inadequate responses to congregants’ complaints. Former pastor Bill Hybels resigned in April after numerous allegations of inappropriate conduct with coworkers became public. To compound the matter, church officials have been accused of not believing the accusers and running a flawed investigation. Citing a loss of trust, the entire Board of Elders has resigned to give the church a chance at a fresh start.
The scandal has gone beyond the church itself. The Willow Creek Association puts on an annual leadership conference that is broadcast to a nationwide audience and disseminated around the world. For the first time in nearly 30 years, Hybels was not on the list of speakers. It is unclear how the mass resignations affected conference registration, but it appears there was a downturn in US viewing of the livestream. Over 100 simulcast host site locations refused to participate this year.
The claims against Hybels and the subsequent investigation by Willow Creek have been detailed by the Chicago Tribune and New York Times. He is accused by co-workers and at least one congregant of lewd or inappropriate sexual behavior. At least one co-worker has publicly accused him of groping and fondling her, and other allegations include unwanted hugs, kisses, and oral sex. Although Hybels has denied the allegations, he has stated that he put himself in “situations that would have been far wiser to avoid.” Hybels resigned 6 months prior to his previously planned retirement.
Survivors of sexual assault often have difficulty coming forward. Survivors sometime feel as if they won’t be believed, and / or they are afraid that they will face some type of retaliation if they come forward. The sexual abuse attorneys at Grewal Law / Church Wyble, P.C. have been fighting for the rights of victims for decades, and they have made it their mission to stop institutional involvement in sexual assault. The lawyers at Grewal Law / Church Wyble, P.C. are currently representing 111 Survivors of Larry Nassar’s abuse and assault, and they understand what it takes to prevail against large universities and corporations. Please contact the firm’s experienced lawyers for information regarding sexual assault support groups, or for a free consultation to discuss your rights. All inquiries with our office are kept in the strictest confidence and are completely confidential.
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