Willow Creek Association announced Monday that it will soon release details of a new independent advisory council that will oversee another investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against embattled Willow Creek Community Church founder Bill Hybels.
The details will be revealed at its annual Global Leadership Summit set for Aug. 9–10.
The announcement comes after The New York Times reported a fresh allegation Sunday, this time from Hybels’ former executive assistant, Pat Baranowski. She said while she worked for Hybels at the South Barrington church in Illinois, and at one point lived with him and his wife Lynne, she was subjected to back rubs, pornography and one incident of oral sex with her pastor.
“Let us be clear, the behavior Bill has been accused of is reprehensible. For many weeks we have been working together with Willow Creek Community Church in seeking an independent investigation as requested by the victims to examine any and all accusations made and any others in the future,” Tom De Vries, president of Willow Creek Association, said in a statement.
“We will be announcing more details at The Global Leadership Summit about the formation of an advisory council made up of external Christian leaders from across the United States who will oversee an independent investigation. We have been working for several weeks in forming this council. They will have full autonomy and authority to conduct this investigation.”
He further explained that an outside anonymous donor would foot the cost for the investigation to “ensure there is no undue influence on the process and the conclusions.”
“We continue to trust God to be our Guide through this painful season as we seek truth and justice. Bill’s engagement with the Summit and Willow Creek Association was completely severed in early April. He has had no involvement in the 2018 Summit or Willow Creek Association since, and there is no path for him to return,” De Vries said.
Just over a week ago, Willow Creek Association revealed that the Hybels’ sexual misconduct scandal has resulted in some 111 host sites backing out of the annual summit.
“Certainly, Bill Hybels played a strong role in The Global Leadership Summit and the allegations made against him, as well as his resulting resignation from Willow Creek and the WCA, has had an impact on participation,” the WCA said in an earlier statement to The Christian Post.
“The Global Leadership Summit has lost 111 host sites as a direct result of the allegations made against Bill Hybels. Attendance will be impacted by the loss of host sites and the allegations against Bill Hybels. The 2018 global goal was 445,000, but it is way too early to know by how much this goal will be impacted,” the organization added.
It was unclear Tuesday if the latest allegations, which Hybels has denied, has resulted in any further loss for the summit.
Contacted for comment Tuesday, Jarrett Ruffino, a representative for the WCA said: “At this time we aren’t fielding any additional questions.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair