That’s how many days I have been fighting in a court for legal justice against my ex cult leader, Bill Gothard.
One thousand, six hundred and four long, exhausting, treacherous, grief-filled, gut-wrenching, heart-stopping, healing, redemptive, beautiful, victorious days.
In January 2019 I at last sat in the witness stand of a Chicago court room and told my story before a judge. Bill Gothard had filed sanctions against me and six other plaintiffs stating that we had been dishonest in our claims, and that we had filed a frivolous lawsuit and he demanded that we compensate him over $200,000 for the suffering he endured during our sexual abuse lawsuit against him.
I was a fish out of water, I had never even walked into a court room before. But I did not shake or tremble. I stood tall, proud, and unwavering. I told my story. I told the truth. And after a grueling six hours of testimony between me and five other women, we at last listened to the judges’ healing words where he said he found our claims and lawsuit to be valid and we did not owe Gothard a single penny.
Many tearful, joyous celebrations were shared that night, toasting our victory over Mai Tai’s, believing that this was finally the end of our battle. But only a few weeks later, Gothard appealed the case, and threw us back into the court system — this time with a new court, the appellate court.
In January 2020 our case was heard before the appellate court, and once again we prayed that the judges would hear our stories and see the truth. Shortly after the hearing, the plaintiffs were told to not expect a ruling for a few months.
Today the ruling came. A beautiful, eleven page ruling where all four appellate court judges once again reviewed the women’s stories and found our claims and lawsuit to be valid. This was NOT a decision of guilt or innocence concerning Bill Gothard, but the court HAS repeatedly stated that the plaintiffs did nothing wrong in filing their lawsuit, and have not found our claims to be frivolous or any error in the filing of the suit.
Immediately after I received the news, I called my fiancé, prayer warriors that had walked through the journey with me, and my fellow lawsuit sisters.
This is no doubt a day of celebration. In the last few hours I have not been able to wipe the smile off my face. ☺️ I bounce between pure, ecstatic giddiness, and bursting into tears of joy. I am so tired. After over four long years a battle, there has been a final victory.
The battle has been valiantly fought, and won. It is now over. I have never been so proud of my lawsuit sisters and fellow warriors.
We won. Truth won. Jesus won. Love won. ?
I never did receive what I originally desired when I entered this battle. I walked into it hoping for a public declaration of guilt of a man who had crushed me so deeply. Instead I ended up finding Jesus, true freedom and grace, a new identity, a new passion and purpose for life, and my soul mate, with whom I am about to start a brand new life. If you ask me, that is a more life-changing, and redemptive victory.
And so now……I’m off for a celebratory date with my best friend and handsome soul mate. ?
? “You will be the lesson I wish I never learned
Love will be the reason your reign was overturned
All my story now belongs to me
I will start to build a better life for me
No one else will know what I could see
I am my survivor and you will be my history” ?
~ My History by Jessica Fisher