Mormon church wants 1984 rape suit against ex-leader tossed - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Mormon church wants 1984 rape suit against ex-leader tossed

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer,File). FILE - In this April 5, 2018 file photo McKenna Denson speaks with reporters during a news conference in Salt Lake City. The Mormon church has asked a judge to toss out a lawsuit accusing leaders of brushing aside rape alle... (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer,File). FILE - In this April 5, 2018 file photo McKenna Denson speaks with reporters during a news conference in Salt Lake City. The Mormon church has asked a judge to toss out a lawsuit accusing leaders of brushing aside rape alle...
(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer,File). FILE - In this April 5, 2018 file photo McKenna Denson speaks with reporters during a news conference in Salt Lake City. The Mormon church has asked a judge to toss out a lawsuit accusing leaders of brushing aside rape alle... (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer,File). FILE - In this April 5, 2018 file photo McKenna Denson speaks with reporters during a news conference in Salt Lake City. The Mormon church has asked a judge to toss out a lawsuit accusing leaders of brushing aside rape alle...

By LINDSAY WHITEHURST
Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Mormon church has asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit accusing leaders of brushing aside rape allegations dating to 1984 against the former head of a church training center that prepares young members for religious missions.

Many people who could have testified about what happened in the 1980s have died or have only cloudy memories, leaving the faith unable to fully defend itself, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in court documents filed Tuesday.

McKenna Denson has said she reported several times over the past three decades that Joseph L. Bishop sexually assaulted her and the church failed to take disciplinary action.

Bishop has denied raping her but acknowledged to police that he asked her to expose herself when he was president of the faith's Missionary Training Center in Provo, according to police documents. The role he held from 1983 to 1986 gave him authority over hundreds of young Mormons preparing to go on church missions.

Bishop, now 85, is also named in the lawsuit. His attorneys argue the lawsuit should be dismissed because the claims are too old.

Her lawyers said Wednesday they disagree with the church's position. There are exceptions to time limits on lawsuits, and her case is one of them, attorney Craig Vernon said in an email. He also questioned the faith's decision to contest the lawsuit.

Denson, 55, has said her experience illustrates systemic problems in the church and she sued because she wants the faith to change the way it handles sexual abuse reports. She said Bishop singled her out, groomed her and sexually assaulted her. He told her no one would believe her if she came forward, she said.

The church has said no discipline was taken against Bishop because he denied the allegations and church members could not verify them.

The Associated Press does not usually name alleged victims of sexual assault, but Denson decided to go public with her story, saying the #MeToo movement gave her the courage to think she might be believed.

The case emerged with the release of a conversation Denson secretly recorded with Bishop in December. In it, Bishop is heard apologizing to Denson after she confronts him about the incident, but he does not specify what happened.

In the same conversation, Bishop acknowledged molesting an unidentified second woman and described it as back rub that he says got "too frisky."

The Mormon church has said it is investigating both incidents and has vowed to "bring accountability." Guidelines for how local leaders should deal with sexual abuse claims also were updated.

The case exposed how the church handles sexual abuse allegations, and was followed by news that a church member supervising missionaries in Puerto Rico was kicked out in 2014, after female missionaries reported "immoral and sinful" behavior.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • NationalMore>>

  • Texas mourners endure grief that 'none of us can comprehend'

    Texas mourners endure grief that 'none of us can comprehend'

    Saturday, May 19 2018 11:51 PM EDT2018-05-20 03:51:30 GMT
    Sunday, May 20 2018 5:43 PM EDT2018-05-20 21:43:29 GMT
    (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP). April Salinas, second from right, her daughters Meah, 13, and Macee, 6, and Jeramiah Kelley read notes left at memorial behind Texas First Bank, Saturday, May 19, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas. A gu...(Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP). April Salinas, second from right, her daughters Meah, 13, and Macee, 6, and Jeramiah Kelley read notes left at memorial behind Texas First Bank, Saturday, May 19, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas. A gu...

    The mother of one slain student said her daughter may have been targeted because she rejected advances from the suspect, who was an ex-boyfriend of her daughter's best friend.

    More >>

    The mother of one slain student said her daughter may have been targeted because she rejected advances from the suspect, who was an ex-boyfriend of her daughter's best friend.

    More >>
  • For school shooting victims, future plans dashed by tragedy

    For school shooting victims, future plans dashed by tragedy

    Sunday, May 20 2018 12:05 AM EDT2018-05-20 04:05:04 GMT
    Sunday, May 20 2018 5:42 PM EDT2018-05-20 21:42:41 GMT
    (AP Photo/Fareed Khan). Abdul Aziz Sheikh, center, father of Sabika Sheikh, a victim of a shooting at a Texas high school, shows a picture of his daughter in Karachi, Pakistan, Saturday, May 19, 2018. The Pakistani foreign exchange student is among tho...(AP Photo/Fareed Khan). Abdul Aziz Sheikh, center, father of Sabika Sheikh, a victim of a shooting at a Texas high school, shows a picture of his daughter in Karachi, Pakistan, Saturday, May 19, 2018. The Pakistani foreign exchange student is among tho...
    Among the 10 people killed in the mass shooting at a Texas high school were a Pakistani exchange student, a substitute teacher with a "lust for life" and a boy whose sense of humor made him impossible to not like.More >>
    Among the 10 people killed in the mass shooting at a Texas high school were a Pakistani exchange student, a substitute teacher with a "lust for life" and a boy whose sense of humor made him impossible to not like.More >>
  • Faster-moving Hawaii lava gushes into sea, spews new danger

    Faster-moving Hawaii lava gushes into sea, spews new danger

    Sunday, May 20 2018 1:01 AM EDT2018-05-20 05:01:32 GMT
    Sunday, May 20 2018 5:42 PM EDT2018-05-20 21:42:22 GMT
    (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong). A resident photographs toxic gases emitting from cracks in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii Saturday, May 19, 2018. Two fissures that opened up in a rural Hawaii community have merged to produce faster and more...(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong). A resident photographs toxic gases emitting from cracks in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii Saturday, May 19, 2018. Two fissures that opened up in a rural Hawaii community have merged to produce faster and more...
    Lava has destroyed four homes and left dozens of others in the shadow of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano isolated, forcing more residents to plan for a possible evacuation.More >>
    Lava has destroyed four homes and left dozens of others in the shadow of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano isolated, forcing more residents to plan for a possible evacuation.More >>
Powered by Frankly