SALT LAKE CITY — (KUTV) — A new lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court claims that Joseph Bishop, the former president of the Missionary Training Center of the LDS Church, had allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct for years before he was called to head the MTC.
The lawsuit, filed by attorneys on behalf of McKenna Denson says: “This includes red flag sexual improprieties with a young woman while serving as a missionary in Argentina for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It also includes similar red flag sexual improprieties while serving in a bishopric in Florida.”
The suit also claims that while Bishop was president of Weber State University there were reports of, “Bishop acting inappropriately toward women and allegations of dishonesty and lack of integrity,” claims the suit.
Lawyers for Denson, who has agreed to reveal her name, said that Bishop had met with a leader in the church and addressed the claims, but the suit claims officials did not discipline Bishop or report the allegations to the police. The suit claims, “Bishop met with Elder Robert E. Wells and disclosed to Elder Wells every indiscretion, sin, or other misdeed that had occurred up to that point in his life, including his sexual addiction and previous instances of sexual predation against women.”
Denson claims, Wells gave Bishop a blessing and following this disclosure to Wells, there is no indication that the Church took any action to investigate these possible crimes or investigate whether, under its own internal policies, Bishop would be subject to Church discipline. Any of these actions could have alerted Denson and other vulnerable women to Bishop’s dangerous propensities,” the suit claims.
Lawyers for Denson claim the church was aware of these allegations but yet Bishop still received a calling to head the MTC where he allegedly raped Denson in a small room in the basement of the building.
(The LDS Church) failed to take reasonable steps and failed to implement reasonable safeguards to avoid acts of unlawful sexual assault in the future by Bishop. These failures by (the church) included, but are not limited to, placing Bishop in a position of power over young, vulnerable women, trained to strictly trust and obey Bishop, the President at the MTC; placing Denson and other women in a location where they knew or should have known that they would be at an increased risk of being sexually assaulted by a self-proclaimed sexual predator.
Lawyers for Denson call the actions of the LDS Church an “epic institutional betrayal of trust.”
Denson will speak at a press conference Thursday at 11 a.m. It will be steamed live on KUTV.com/watch.
The LDS Church responded Wednesday evening with part of its statement previously released on the matter:
The Church has great faith in the judicial system to determine the truth of these claims. Nevertheless, the Church takes seriously its responsibility to hold its members accountable for their conduct with respect of the laws of God and man