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Race, Religion & Social Justice

Woman Accusing Ex-Missionary Training Leader Of Rape Files Suit Against LDS Church

Lee Hale
McKenna Denson filed a lawsuit Wednesday against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints alleging that the church placed Joseph L. Bishop in charge of the training center in Provo despite red flags.

A woman accusing a former Mormon leader of rape is now suing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She and her attorneys are asking for justice as well as policy changes to prevent further abuse.

McKenna Denson said that while she was a young missionary for the LDS Church in the 1980s she was raped by her presiding Mormon leader.


The man, Joseph Bishop, was serving as the president of the Missionary Training Center, or MTC, at the time. On Thursday, Denson held a press conference to announce a civil lawsuit against the church for not taking appropriate action.


“I’m right, it happened," Denson said. "I was raped at the MTC and the church covered it up and they still promoted him into higher and higher positions in the church.”


Bishop denies the rape allegation but admitted to police that he asked Denson to expose her breasts to him at that time.


In the lawsuit, Denson says The LDS Church failed to discipline Bishop after she reported the incident several times over the years to various church leaders. 


The LDS Church recently updated their guidelines on abuse to encourage local leaders to believe abuse survivors and never discourage them from seeking counseling or help from law enforcement. Denson’s attorney said the changes don’t go far enough.

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