Which “Attorney David Gibbs” Leads the Lawsuit of Lourdes Torres-Manteufel vs Douglas Phillips – the Father, or the Son? (With Comments)
There are two Christian lawyers named David C. Gibbs – Jr. is the father and III is the son. This post seeks to halt the ongoing confusion about which Gibbs serves as lead attorney for Lourdes Torres-Manteufel in her civil suit against Doug Phillips and Vision Forum.
I recently contacted David C. Gibbs, III. He is the lead attorney for Lourdes Torres-Manteufel in her civil suit against Doug Phillips plus his Vision Forum, Inc., business and his Vision Forum Ministries non-profit. I’d come up against a recurring issue on my own blog with commenters, and on other websites, about exactly which Attorney Gibbs people were talking about – Gibbs III or his father, Gibbs, Jr. I’d also gotten a number of emails and blog post comments that didn’t distinguish between the two.
Which one was consultant to the board of Bill Gothard’s Institute in Basic Life Principles?
Which one was involved in the notorious criminal trial of now-convicted pastor Jack Schaap?
Spiritual abuse survivors were outraged that Lourdes Torres-Manteufel might be placing the future of her lawsuit in the hands of someone with a notorious reputation for covering up abuse of power.
But it just didn’t seem to make sense that someone involved in those kinds of cases would take up the case against a patriarchy movement leader like Doug Phillips! So I pursued some leads from Spiritual Sounding Board commenters and others to figure things out. The confusion is understandable, really. Both are lawyers, and Gibbs III did work for/with Gibbs, Jr., at his father’s Christian Law Association (CLA) organization for a period of time. But, given the horrific abusive perpetrated in the above situations, which Gibbs was involved would make a huge difference.
The following chart was pieced together from material provided by Attorney David C. Gibbs, III, via email and from his National Center for Life and Liberty (NCLL) website. The few short statements after that were lightly edited from quotes he provided. Attorney Gibbs III then reviewed and approved them before I posted them here at Spiritual Sounding Board. [Click on the chart below to see a larger, clearer version; and click here for a downloadable PDF of this article and the chart.]
About His Father’s Philosophy
It turns out that the son is not very much like his father. The professional paths of the two Gibbs attorneys diverged when the son could not endorse his father’s old-school theology with its patriarchal philosophy.
Embarrassingly to David, his father has stood with many child abusers in the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) world over the years rather than publicly renouncing their sin. David’s father is of that old-school philosophy that tends to cover-up and hide as opposed to being transparent, open, and honest. That is why David’s father meets with Bill Gothard’s board as they try to cover-up and ignore Dr. Gothard’s immoral activities. In stark contrast, David Gibbs III is suing Doug Phillips on behalf of the woman he victimized, Lourdes Torres-Manteufel.
Attorney Gibbs III disagrees with many of the positions, decisions, and recommendations that his father and Christian Law Association support as they spend donated church money to protect and cover-up the moral failings of sinful leaders. Attorney Gibbs III supports and promotes child protection and full ministry transparency and accountability. In David’s opinion, CLA and his father have been on the wrong side of these issues for a number of years. That is one of the many reasons why David Gibbs III cannot endorse and work alongside his aging father in ministry.
About Alleged Criminal Issues
Several blog comments had alleged that Attorney Gibbs III had been arrested in Florida on charges of spousal abuse, even linking to the Florida county arrest log to where one could supposedly find the record of the arrest.
He has NO criminal record, and he and his wife have NEVER had any domestic dispute as falsely alleged in these unsubstantiated and slanderous posts. David and his wife will celebrate twenty-one years of marriage in July 2014.
About Pushing Back Against Systems of Abuse
His website bio summarizes his philosophy well.
Attorney Gibbs believes: “If it’s wrong, fight it. If it’s right, fight for it.” His life verse is Matthew 25:40, where Jesus said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
While there was an opportunity to merely copy this material from various comments online, it was important for how we do things at SSB for me to contact Attorney Gibbs III directly, and wait to post this information until I’d heard from him – even while this contains much of the exact same information. I believe we need to separate the fused identities of father and son, move past any temporary association the son had with his father’s patriarchy-supporting CLA, and embrace this man whose philosophy on abuse puts Lourdes Torres-Manteufel in good stead.
Please keep praying for Lourdes and her husband Nolan, for Attorney Gibbs III’s leadership in the progress of the lawsuit, and for the ultimate uncloaking of Vision Forum and patriarchy as a “total institution” with “bounded choice,” as Cindy Kunsman’s guest post series has been exploring in detail. This case is strategic to shining the light of truth on this dark and abusive movement.
See also the resource post on the lawsuit for more detailed information, plus references, and links.
UPDATE from Julie Anne 5/27/14: Since posting this article, a couple of commenters have provided more information regarding David Gibbs III that I was unaware of. Please read the comments. While this information is worth noting (and hopefully we can get some of it cleared up), I believe we must stand behind Lourdes and this lawsuit.
27 comments on “Which “Attorney David Gibbs” Leads the Lawsuit of Lourdes Torres-Manteufel vs Douglas Phillips – the Father, or the Son?”
May 26, 2014 @ 1:38 PM
Thanks for definitively clearing this up. There has been so much confusion.
Lourdes’s husband is Nolan.
May 26, 2014 @ 2:11 PM
It’s one thing to agree to be someone’s attorney because you believe even the worst defendant is entitled to legal representation in our justice system. It’s another thing to have a pattern of trying to get abusers off with the lightest sentence possible because of all the ‘good’ they’ve done otherwise over the years of ‘ministry’, or whatever excuse is produced. A good lawyer should be prioritizing the right and ethical thing over any ideological/religious precommitments.
May 26, 2014 @ 3:08 PM
@Marsha — thanks for catching my mistake that I missed during the editing/last-check review process — got it corrected! My apologies to Nolan and Lourdes for my error.
May 26, 2014 @ 3:31 PM
It would be funny to see these two duke it out in court. I don’t see it happening anytime soon as senior is a behind the scenes WHITEwasher that seldom darkens the door of a court room. His son is the type to file garbage cases demanding huge damages and then retreat instead of litigating, settling for a pat on the back and nuisance payment of an insignificant amount. I believe that is exactly what you will see occur in the Doug Phillips matter ( if not outright dismissal of the case) and then Sir Douglas will put on his 14th century best and spend the rest of the year pompously pontificating on how abused he was by the misuse of the legal system and vicious crazy women bloggers ( all of which are of course bitter, angry , divorcees that have turned lesbian , have lesbian fantasies Or at least have stayed at a Holiday Inn express where lesbians have also stayed).
May 26, 2014 @ 5:09 PM
WOAH! David Gibbs III was the attorney for Chuck Phelps (now goes by Charles Phelps on his church website) at the rape trial of Ernest “Ernie” Willis. I have notes from the trial online here: http://isupporttinaanderson.blogspot.com/ See specifically day four and five (http://isupporttinaanderson.blogspot.com/search/label/David%20Gibbs%20III)
I noticed David Gibbs III as the attorney for Lourdes Torres-Manteufel when I first read about her lawsuit. I had heard that he was making changes in his law firm, but never had a need to check it out. When I saw he was representing her I looked at the same websites you did. I’m not sure if he is “changed” or rehabilitating his image. I haven’t personally seen him since the trial of Tina Anderson’s rapist in May 2011. Did he tell you when the split from his dad occurred?
Regardless, I personally observed with my own eyes, his behavior in the courtroom during the trial of Tina Anderson’s rapist and there were others that observed there with me. I think if David Gibbs III is really a changed man he should issue a public statement and repudiate his past involvement with IFB churches that covered up abuse or did not handle it properly. I am not doubting that you spoke with him, but there are certainly more sides to the story than his.
Notice in the trial notes from Day Five the story about David Gibbs and his son taking the seat Tina Anderson had been using during one of the courtroom breaks. I saw this with my own eyes. It was awful. When the DA had David Gibbs III move, he left his son there. I had to point out to the DA that the son of Chuck Phelps’ attorney was sitting there by Tina Anderson’s advocate.
Still to this day, Chuck Phelps has not apologized to Tina Anderson.
If indeed David Gibbs III is a changed man and not just trying to change his image to get a new law firm going, he has people he has hurt that should be able to access a public statement from him.
*Note. One of the mornings of the trial week, David Gibbs III met with Chris Leaf and her husband Daniel Leaf (you can read more about him here http://isupporttinaanderson.blogspot.com/2011/11/is-chris-leaf-credible.html) at the hotel where a number of supporters for Tina Anderson were staying. I can’t remember off the top of my head if David Gibbs III happened to be staying at the same hotel, but can verify it pretty quickly. Chris Leaf never would say during the trial who paid for David Gibbs III to represent her.
May 26, 2014 @ 7:45 PM
I have confirmed that David Gibbs III stayed at the same hotel as many of Tina Anderson’s supporters.
May 26, 2014 @ 7:53 PM
I just arrived home from camp and so I’m not too clear-headed at the moment. What is the significance of Gibbs III staying at the same hotel?
I must admit that although I have heard the names Phelps/Tina Anderson, I have not followed that story. It sounds like there are still more questions to be answered.
Headless Unicorn Guy
May 26, 2014 @ 9:20 PM
So the Gospelly Fix is In?
May 26, 2014 @ 9:36 PM
Hi Julie Anne, There isn’t any really significance… just that the reason several of our group were able to observe him was that they were all staying there (it was coincidence–not planned).
I have seen too much first hand of David Gibbs III just through Tina Anderson’s story alone to believe that if he has truly had a change of heart he should make a public statement. Also, I had personal interaction with some families that left Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indianapolis (Charles Phelps’ church) after David Gibbs III went there prior to Ernest Willis’ trial for raping Tina Anderson. I guess for me, David Gibbs III reputation is a big picture issue. I can’t personally believe he’s changed unless he makes a public statement.
May 26, 2014 @ 9:38 PM
When I read this post, I went back to find the live tweets from the trial mentioned above because I knew there was some shenanigans there involving David Gibbs. It was David Gibbs lll and his seating had to be changed more than once during the trial. You can find the live tweets here. Scroll down for the WMUR Channel 9 Live tweets. Each day of the trial is numbered.
May 26, 2014 @ 10:08 PM
Do you remember breakfast at the hotel the morning Gibbs was “counseling” Chris Leaf about her testimony? It was so hard to bite my tongue. David Gibbs III was so creepy the week of the Willis trial. I’m all for it if he really has changed; but one would think if that was the case, he’d have some public apologies to issue… Starting with Tina Anderson.
May 26, 2014 @ 10:18 PM
Sorry about the double post. Didn’t see the first one go through. Gibbs, Daniel and Chris stayed at the same hotel we did.
May 26, 2014 @ 11:14 PM
1. To my knowledge, David Gibbs III was with the CLA (his dad) at least through the time that he represented Chuck Phelps at Ernie Willis’ trial in May 2011. You said above: “Both are lawyers, and Gibbs III did work for/with Gibbs, Jr., at his father’s Christian Law Association (CLA) organization for a period of time.” I believe that “period of time” would be most of his career. Did he tell you when he separated from the CLA?
2. If he was on staff at CLA in May 2012, here is what the CLA was advising churches to do in response to child abuse allegations: “Third, every church must properly respond to abuse allegations. If abuse allegations are made, the pastor should immediately contact the church’s attorney to ensure proper handling of the situation. The church should then conduct an internal investigation of the allegations. You should inform the worker of the allegations and discuss the situation with the worker. You must also immediately remove the accused from their position while the investigation is conducted. This protects the worker and the ministry. You should also contact your insurance carrier and put them on notice. After discussing the findings with your attorney, you would then decide whether this situation requires reporting to the authorities.” (backup copy of article here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/101707333/2012-05-01-How-to-Avoid-Pitfalls-in-Your-Childrens-Ministry). ***Note, they were advising thinking of contacting law enforcement last. wow. If he believes what he told you above, I would think a public statement would help people to know he has changed his opinion/advise for churches in a HUGE way. I hope that he has.
3. The criminal record issue is interesting. I personally know people that saw his picture on the website linked in this post https://www.facebook.com/SFLBlog/posts/539129379446825
It was his picture. They saw him in court and knew his face. There is a difference between saying “I have no criminal record” and saying “I have never been arrested.” It’s true that the original link at http://florida.arrests.org/Arrests/David_Gibbs_4714396/ is gone. Also true that any vestige of the page is gone even from the internet archives. If he was arrested and the charges dropped that is different than saying there is no criminal record. It’s possible for misunderstandings to happen. If an arrest happened and then the misunderstandings were resolved that is great. It seems to be a stretch to say something was falsely alleged if he was arrested and the charges dropped though.
I personally have hope for everyone. I’d love to see Chuck Phelps apologize to Tina Anderson. I’d love to see David Gibbs III openly repudiate his past associations with protecting IFB churches that did not handle abuse properly. I have never been able to stop believing in the redemptive power of God’s grace in anyone’s life.
May 26, 2014 @ 11:20 PM
Tiquatue–yes, the live tweets are reporting all all gathered there. At some point I combined it all into one document to make it easier for searching. It’s stored here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/75359958/Willis-Rape-Trial-Live-Reporting-From-ALL-COMBINED
in that document there is a table of contents that I created to help people find info quickly from both Maddie Hanna of the Concord Monitor and also the WMUR reporters.
The live tweets confirm what is in the trial notes from the blog I listed above that’s also linked to my name here. Thanks!
May 27, 2014 @ 5:22 AM
If David Gibbs III represented Chuck Phelps, then I have serious misgivings about him representing Lourdes.
Phelps’ behavior toward Tina Anderson was reprehensible; he makes my skin crawl.
May 27, 2014 @ 5:49 AM
Oh boy, have you noticed that when you start digging around churches and abuse issues, nothing is as clean as it seems and so many paths of people cross? I really don’t know what is going on here and if what Laurie and melaniejb say are true, then it does raise more questions than answers.
It would be good if David Gibbs III could address these specific issues and put them at rest as these comments that keep coming up are a distraction to Lourdes’ case.
When reading the Lourdes lawsuit, it is a well-written complaint and describes so much of what we read about in abuse systems. I don’t know the sequence of events leading to Lourdes finding Gibbs III to represent her, but what I do know is this: we need to stand behind Lourdes Torres-Manteufel and offer support to her. While I think it’s appropriate to make a mental note of previous cases, I would like to urge caution in making a big stink about a specific old case for the sake of Lourdes.
I think it is so important that there is a massive public show of support for Lourdes and the lawsuit. It’s ok to not like her attorney – everybody has their own personal opinions, and he may in fact have some skeletons in his closet, but I think most of us agree that the lawsuit itself, its focus on the oppressive and abusive system of Patriarchy and the Total Institution is the right direction and it really has been a powerful message to those who have been waving the Patriarchy bandwagon and oppressing women/girls for years.
May 27, 2014 @ 6:39 AM
“Oh boy, have you noticed that when you start digging around churches and abuse issues, nothing is as clean as it seems and so many paths of people cross?”
Yep. I see it all the time. People want white hat/black hat dichotomies and it just does not work that way. I wish it did. Brent Detwiler is one example. He was a shepherding cult pastor. He still believes he was doing God’s work at SGM. But he is also an invaluable resource because he documented everything. I am glad he is sharing his information but would I trust him as a pastor? No way.
It often takes people from the inside. People who were part of the evil to expose it or even understand how it works. I hate that for all of us. To look at it another way, is there anyone else in that capacity who would better understand how DP operates? In fact, I think that will be even more intimidating for DP than if it were some atheist lawyer with a big reputation.
Whatever the case, it was their choice. I hope she wins big time.
May 27, 2014 @ 6:46 AM
Julie Anne, I know I haven’t myself said anything about David Gibbs III representing her until I saw your post here appearing to give him a “clean bill of health” so to speak. I admire Lourdes for fighting back. Sometimes a civil suit is the only way to make an abuser or an abusive church/organization do the right thing. I doubt that her attorney would do anything but his best to get her fair restitution. That said, hopefully he will be willing to clarify the situation for you. I hope he has changed. If he hasn’t, I still wish the best for Lourdes, but definitely couldn’t agree with the kind of strong recommendation you have provided above for him. I won’t be out there on the internet campaigning against him since my goal (especially with the new trial coming up) is to do what I can to support Tina Anderson’s objective of communicating support and hope to survivors and also encouraging churches to do the right thing.
May 27, 2014 @ 6:55 AM
Laurie, I think we are on the same page. I am all about supporting victims and those who have no voice. And where there is confusion over Gibbs III, I think full disclosure is important to show integrity and transparency. I hope this can be cleared up. Please keep in mind, evidently you and others have been following the Tina Anderson case for some time and have some history that I have not been been aware of, so when this article was posted it was on the basis of seeing confusion over father/son, not being aware of any other issue.
I am going to add a disclaimer to the article to encourage folks to read the comments.
May 27, 2014 @ 7:38 AM
Lydia makes a very valid point. I know people that were “pastored” by Brent Detwiler and he was in LOCKSTEP with CJ and his cronies. He did some of the same abusive B.S. to other people that was then done to him. NOW suddenly that is abuse, corruption and disqualifies from ministry BUT when Brent was on the SGM gravy train it was all very ok. He was literally singing CJs praises in front of a huge audience during a special service that essentially was a night of CJ worship. None of that apparently seemed inappropriate to Brent when he was being compensated very well for being one of CJs enablers. Once the ever narcissistic CJ betrayed Brent (as any Psychopath will eventually do) and deprived him of a SGM paycheck, Brent suddenly has a “change of heart” and is all about “exposure ministry” .
I’m very happy to see SGM disintegrating and hope the remaining litigation will destroy the Fairfax Location, literally closing it. I’m not defending CJ in anyway (I think he is a dangerous CULT leader) however he wasn’t the only one leading the SGM parade. Brent played a role in exposing SGM but he is NOT innocent of wrong doing with respect to sheep abuse. He was obviously very willing to go along with it for a paycheck and participated in some of the same type of deplorable conduct he is now pointing fingers at CJ for. Brent needs to seek employment outside of ministry and work for a living like the rest of us living in the real world. Asking for donations to support his family was over the top in so many ways. He is just as unqualified for ministry as CJ and the rest of the SGM tyrants.
The moral of the story is don’t trust any SGM “pastor” as far as you can throw them. I would recommend holding anyone that attends a SGM church at arms length at this point. If they still are in a SGM church at this time, that says a lot about them. Too much information has come out at this time for them to be “unaware” or in denial about the fact that they are in a CULT driven business, that masquerades as a church.
May 27, 2014 @ 7:58 AM
Scott – I don’t know that I’d say Brent’s “conversion” was when he lost his paycheck. That’s a little unfair when we don’t know a man’s heart.
In my church situation and elder remained at the church and then eventually left. Why did he leave? He left when it hit home close and personal and then the lightbulb went off. Each of us living under abuse has those aha moments, those moments where we hit the palm of our hand against our forehead and wonder why we missed it. I think the more important matter is not to try to figure out why someone got that aha moment, but be thankful that it finally occurred and they can see the “light.”
One important thing to note that I was just discussing with a friend is that Gibbs III is a Second Generation Adult who lived in a strict IFB environment as a child. This is a difficult process to separate from that environment and there’s sometimes a one-step-forward-2-steps backward-type of thing going on. Boy, this stuff is messy.
May 27, 2014 @ 8:08 AM
Another point I forgot to mention – - – Karen Campbell had posted a note in the comments here a while back saying she had permission to pass along a note from Gibbs III. I elected to not publish that comment (and sent Karen an e-mail explaining why). Karen and I have corresponded over the years and I greatly appreciate what she has done with regard to Patriarchy/Homeschool Movement, but because this case is so public and so important, I wanted to hear it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and in full context. This post is the result of all of that. Gibbs III approved this post before it was published. That was important to me because of all the name confusion going on.
May 27, 2014 @ 8:15 AM
Sorry for the interruption, but I have an important update. Mom is going back home this Friday. They got all the cancer, and her two weeks in rehab have strengthened her enough to take care of herself alone at home. Thank You, dear Lord!!!
May 27, 2014 @ 8:27 AM
That’s the kind of interruption I love. Rejoicing with you, WFTT2!
May 27, 2014 @ 8:37 AM
Wonderful news, WFTT2! I am so happy for both of you.
May 27, 2014 @ 8:43 AM
Julie Anne, you make a very good point! It is hard to see the light when you have been raised in a certain way. I am sure that the contrast between what Phelps initially said and what he admitted to on the stand after his journal was admitted into evidence was an eye opener for many. I thank God that Tina got justice.
In any case, DG III is on the right side now and I hope he can get justice for Lourdes.
Headless Unicorn Guy
May 27, 2014 @ 9:01 AM
NOW suddenly that is abuse, corruption and disqualifies from ministry BUT when Brent was on the SGM gravy train it was all very ok.
Amazing how Very OK it becomes when YOU’RE the one who Personally Benefits from the situation.
“I Got Mine,
I Got Mine,
I DON’T WANT A THING TO CHANGE
Now that I Got Mine…”
– Glenn Frye