This weekend, The New York Times published a story in which a woman named Pat Baranowski described years of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior by Willow Creek Church founder Bill Hybels.
Hybels stepped down as the pastor—sooner than he previously said he planned to—following other allegations by several women of sexual misconduct back in March.
In March, the church and Hybels denied the allegations and suggested that the women who made them were lying. They also said they had previously investigated the allegations, and found Hybels had done nothing wrong. Since then, however, the church apologized, and said that they now believed Hybels “entered into areas of sin.”
But following the latest allegations, the Willow Creek Association has announced a new independent investigation.
In a statement, they said: “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.”
They said they have formed “an advisory council made up of external Christian leaders from across the United States who will oversee an independent investigation.”
They claim the committee “will have full autonomy and authority to conduct this investigation. Furthermore, an outside anonymous donor has come forward to completely cover the cost of this 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.”