Multiple women have accused a former leader of a Mormon missionary of sexual assault dating back to the 1980s, Yahoo reports.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says it is investigating what it called “deeply disturbing” claims against Joseph Bishop and will discipline him if they are verified.
A 55-year-old woman has come forward alleging that Bishop raped her in 1984 while she was in a training program to become a missionary.
In a statement, the church said that if the allegations are true, “it would be a tragic betrayal of our standards and would result in action by the Church to formally discipline any member who was guilty of such behavior, especially someone in a position of trust.”
Days before the church issued the statement, MormonLeaks had posted a conversation that the Bishop, now 85, had with the woman.
The woman posed as a journalist and secretly recorded the discussion last December, according to Fox 13.
She began interviewing Bishop about church leaders but then started talking about what he allegedly did to her and other women.
Bishop in the recording tells the woman that he doesn’t remember assaulting her possibly “’because my mind doesn’t want me to remember that.”
Still, he admitted to sexually assaulting one woman and engaging in other inappropriate behavior, including giving a woman a back rub that he said became too “frisky.”
Bishop went on to say that if all of his sins were exposed the church would excommunicate him.
He apologized repeatedly and said he has long struggled with what he referred to as “sexual addiction.”
“I am very, very sorry and I am so sorry. I don’t know if I can even be forgiven on your side,” Bishop can be heard saying in the recording.
He added: “I apologize, from the depths of my heart.”
The woman, whose identity has not been released, reported the alleged sexual assault to police at Brigham Young University. Bishop refuted the allegations except for acknowledging that he asked her to show him her breasts while they were in a room together.
David Sturgill, deputy attorney of the Utah County attorney’s office, said charges could not be filed against Bishop because the statute of limitations had expired.
“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,” Sturgill wrote to university policy, according to a report.
The church said in its statement that it is “continuing its investigation of this individual’s claims and will act consistent with its long-standing policy of no tolerance for abuse.”
From 1983 to 1986, Bishop was president of the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.
The center trains people as missionaries before they are dispatched around the globe.
[Feature image: Street View of Missionary Training Center/Google maps]