Joseph L. Bishop

Mormon church leader accused of raping woman in 1984; victim says church ignored ‘red flag sexual improprieties’

A woman reportedly filed a lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), accusing the then-president of the LDS Missionary Training Center (MTC) of raping her in 1984.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, McKenna Denson filed the lawsuit Wednesday in federal court in Salt Lake City, Utah. In it, she claims that the church appointed Joseph L. Bishop as MTC president, essentially ignoring “red flag sexual improprieties” that occurred years earlier. The lawsuit describes an incident involving Bishop and a young woman while serving as a missionary in Argentina, and Bishop’s treatment of women when he was president of Weber State University.

Denson claimed that Bishop, now 85, took her to a “secluded room” on the Provo campus, where he raped and sexually assaulted her. BuzzFeed News reported that Denson said she suffered a variety of mental and financial hardships from the 1984 assault and is suing for an undisclosed amount.

The lawsuit comes a month after MormonLeaks published a recorded conversation between Denson and Bishop. According to BuzzFeed, Denson recorded the December conversation under the pretext of writing an article about Bishop’s church services. But, 40 minutes, in Denson reportedly confronts the church leader about the alleged assault.

While Bishop claims he doesn’t remember the 1984 incident, he’s heard apologizing to Denson and explaining that he’s a sexual predator who has already admitted to another incident of sexual misconduct, The Tribune reported.

Since then, the church released a statement explaining that officials were first made aware of Denson’s claims in 2010.

“They listened carefully to the claims being made and then this was immediately reported to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, and the police interviewed her at that time,” they wrote in last month’s statement.

“The Church does not know what she said in that interview, but the Church received no further communication from the police concerning the matter.”

The church said that Bishop was never disciplined as officials couldn’t verify the claims. Furthermore, the church revealed that they’ve since been made aware of another woman who was possibly victimized by Bishop.

A police report obtained by BuzzFeed stated that Bishop admitted last year to asking Denson to “show him her breasts which she did.” The document included a note from a prosecutor who said that they would’ve criminally charged Bishop had the alleged incident not occurred decades earlier.

Prosecutor David Sturgill wrote, “I have no reason to doubt the victim’s disclosure, and would have likely prosecuted Mr. Bishop, but for the expiration of the statute of limitations.”

[Featured Image: Joseph L. Bishop/KSTU video screengrab]