SOUTH BARRINGTON, Ill. — According to the Chicago Tribune, an independent advisory that reviewed the allegations against former Rev. Bill Hybels found that claims of “sexually inappropriate words and actions” were credible, and that the well-known pastor should have faced discipline if he had not resigned.
The independent review was done by religious leaders from Wheaton College, Chicago, Indianapolis and Washington D.C. They interviewed Hybels and all the women who made accusations against him. The report stated that Hybels verbally and emotionally intimidated both male and female employees.
“To all the women who have come forward the church should always follow in Jesus’ footsteps to help the wounded find healing and we are sorry we added to your pain,” Missy Rasmussen, Willow Creek elder, said. “That was not our intention and we regret it has taken us this long to acknowledge that.”
Hybels stepped down nearly a year ago after spending more than 40 years leading the megachurch in South Barrington. He resigned after multiple allegations of misconduct with women, including church employees.
“The leaders of both our church and the Willow Creek Association need the freedom to get on with the task of carry out the important missions that God has given to them. Therefore, I have decided to accelerate my planned retirement date from October of this year to tonight,” he said to his congregation on the night he resigned.
A former executive assistant to Hybels told the New York Times she was sexually harassed and groped by Hybels.
The church was criticized for its slow response, eventually leading to the resignations of the church’s two leading pastors and its entire board of elders.
The council’s report Thursday also was critical of how those leaders reacted as the crisis at Willow Creek unfolded, saying they failed to rein Hybels in, and that church leadership was not prepared to handle the events.
The new nine-member elder board at Willow Creek Church posted the following statement on their website Thursday evening:
“While we cannot change the events of the past, we grieve what has happened, ask for forgiveness, and commit ourselves to pursuing healing and reconciliation.”
WGN News reached out to Hybels, but he has not responded or commented on the new report.