Six months after closing the chapter on their embattled founder Bill Hybels with a call for him to “repent” as needed for his role in a sexual misconduct scandal, Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago is now apologizing for allowing Hybels’ mentor, Gilbert Bilezikian, to keep teaching at the church despite abuse allegations against him.
“Over the weekend, a longtime Willow Creek congregant made her personal story of abuse public. This story involves Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian (widely known as ‘Dr. B’), a mentor to Bill Hybels. We are heartbroken for what this congregant experienced and are deeply sorry for the pain this has caused her and her family,” Willow Creek elders began in an update Tuesday.
In addition to being Hybels’ mentor, Bilezikian, who is a retired Wheaton College professor, is also credited with helping him start Willow Creek.
The church’s statement on Tuesday came after longtime Willow Creek member Ann Lindberg disclosed in an extended post on Facebook Saturday how Bilezikian victimized her for years and suggested he would have had sex with her had she allowed it during a relationship that lasted from October 1984 to 1988.
“It began with subtle flirtations after weekend services, and grew to include hand holding, emotional sharing and intimacy, kissing and fondling, and pressure to have sex. Dr. Bilezikian confided about his unhappy marriage, his lack of joy, and desire for a better partnership. He told me I was the type of woman he wished he had married instead of his wife Maria. I was young in my faith, new to church, and hungry for someone to invest spiritually in me. He made me feel special, and he was a spiritual authority in a large church, and I did not feel like I could say no to him, even when my gut was telling me this was not appropriate,” Lindberg wrote.
“I was too naïve to figure out there was no way God wanted that for me, no way to maintain the ‘friendship’ in a godly way, and that that had never been Dr. Bilezikian’s intent. I believe we would have had sex if I had allowed it, but I think he was very good at reading people and knew just how far he could push me before I would stop having anything to do with him,” she recalled.
“One night, as we were walking to my car, he turned around in a hallway, pushed me hard against a wall, grabbed a breast and stuck his tongue down my throat. I pushed back, in complete disbelief, but he began skipping down the stairs like a child. Other times, we would meet during the day time and take walks down the Wheaton prairie paths or around Wheaton’s small downtown streets. He would warn me that no one could see us together, that it would ruin his reputation, yet in the next moment, he would shove me into the doorway of a storefront or behind a truck and begin wildly kissing me. I would push him away. When we walked down the prairie paths, he would reach for my hand, my waist, and other places,” she said.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair