was a Mormon church member and president of the Provo, Utah Missionary Training Center (MTC) in the 1980s; allegedly sexually abused multiple sister missionaries; not criminally charged because the statute of limitations had expired (in 1984, the legal deadline in Utah for filing a rape charge was four years); civil lawsuit was dismissed after an agreement by the plaintiff and the LDS church

Case report

When Joseph Bishop was the president of Weber State University, a sexual harassment charge was brought against him, which the state settled.

Bishop was a Mormon mission president in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 1978 to 1981 (Buenos Aires North Mission).

from the Salt Lake Tribune on 2018-03-22:

“The former president of the Missionary Training Center for the LDS Church has admitted that he took a young woman into a small room at the Provo campus and asked to see her breasts in 1984, according to a December report released Wednesday by Brigham Young University police.

The woman told BYU police in November that Joseph L. Bishop had sexually assaulted her at the center in 1984. After her initial report, but before she spoke in detail with officers, she flew to visit Bishop in Arizona after telling him she was interviewing former mission presidents.

During the Dec. 2 conversation, which she secretly recorded, the Colorado woman accused him of attempting to rape her in January 1984 in a downstairs room at the center. A nearly three-hour audiotape of their conversation and a transcript were released Monday by the group MormonLeaks.

Bishop, 85, told her he did not remember the alleged assault. But when speaking with BYU officers on Dec. 5, Bishop said he had gone into his small preparation room with the woman. “Then while talking to her he asked her to show him her breasts which she did,” the police report said.

The day earlier, the woman had told officers that Joseph had attempted to kiss her in the room, and she resisted. She said he ripped her blouse and skirt, pulled down other clothing and raped her, the report said. She said she then pushed him off and left the room, it said.

When officers asked Bishop why his account was different than hers, “he said he either can’t remember it or that [she] was exaggerating her account,” the report said.

Deputy Utah County Attorney David Sturgill said he could not pursue charges against Bishop because the statute of limitations had expired. In 1984, the legal deadline for filing a rape charge was four years, he said.

“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.

The woman was not immediately available for comment on the newly released report. In the recorded conversation, she told Bishop he had destroyed her faith in the church and her trust of the priesthood.

“I have carried this, and it has destroyed my life,” she said.

In an interview earlier this week, she told The Salt Lake Tribune she did not release a copy of her recorded conversation to MormonLeaks. She had shared the recording with several people, she said, and someone gave it to MormonLeaks without her consent.

Mormon bishops are told to ‘believe the sisters’ when they learn of marital abuse — but they don’t always do so Mormon bishops are told to ‘believe the sisters’ when they learn of marital abuse — but they don’t always do so.

She said the release may have undermined settlement negotiations she was having with Mormon officials. She asked not to be named, and The Tribune generally does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.

Greg Bishop, Bishop’s son, said Wednesday that his father’s admission to police was not entirely at odds with what the elderly man had told him in private conversations. The elder Bishop told his son and police that “that there was no sexual contact between them, no rape and that she exposed her breasts,” Greg Bishop said.

In the recording, Joseph Bishop admits to giving another female missionary a back rub that became “frisky.” When the Colorado woman asks: “When did you molest her?” He answers: “When she was living with us.”

Greg Bishop concedes that his father did not challenge the woman’s use of the word “molest.” But he points out that his father, when explaining the incident in his own words, says he rubbed her back and does not describe any other contact.

Eric Hawkins, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said the woman’s allegations of sexual assault “are very serious and deeply disturbing,” and would result in discipline “for any church member who was guilty of such behavior, especially someone in a position of trust.”

Hawkins said Bishop denied her allegation in 2010 after she raised it that year with church leaders and again after her lawyer provided a copy of the recording to the church in January. The church is continuing to investigate, he said.”

from the Daily Herald on 2018-03-23:

“On Friday afternoon, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released additional information concerning Joseph L. Bishop, former president of the Provo Missionary Training Center, who has been the center of sex abuse allegations in the 1980s.

“We share the anger and distress Church members and others feel to learn of incidents where those entrusted with sacred responsibilities violate God’s commandments and harm others,” the press statement said. “Such behavior is repulsive and sinful. The Church is looking into all aspects of the assertions on the recording of Joseph Bishop. This includes the work of outside legal counsel, who are interviewing priesthood leaders, family members, law enforcement officials and others with knowledge of these incidents.”

The statement indicates the church is now aware of another woman, who informed her local ecclesiastical leaders she was sexually abused by Joseph Bishop while he served as president of the Missionary Training Center.

“When she reported the alleged abuse to her local Church leaders in 2010, they provided emotional support as well as professional counseling services,” the church statement says. “Mr. Bishop’s local ecclesiastical leaders were contacted and they confronted him with her claims, which he denied, and local leaders did not feel they could pursue church discipline for Mr. Bishop.”

Earlier this week, the first woman that contacted police last year about Bishop’s reported conduct in 1984 also told police about another female missionary that may have been assaulted at the same time. Initial reports indicated attempts to identify and locate this other woman were unsuccessful.

The Utah County Attorney’s Office reviewed the first woman’s initial Nov. 28 report to police, but closed the matter on Dec. 23 because the statute of limitations had expired for the reported acts in 1984.

The first woman told BYU University Police that Bishop reportedly tried to kiss her in an MTC room before he forcibly undressed her, pushed her on a bed and engaged in intercourse without her consent.

Reports indicate that Bishop’s account of events is similar to the woman’s, except for the reported rape and some details about the room where the reported acts occurred.

On Wednesday, the church received the unredacted police report from BYU police, which included an admission of inappropriate sexual conduct.

“We are committed to bringing accountability for what has occurred,” the church statement said. “Sexual abuse cannot be tolerated in the Church.”

The statement continues, “We continue to urge our leaders to take reports of abuse very seriously. Leaders should call the Church’s abuse helpline, which has been established to assure that victims are cared for and that abuse reporting laws are strictly obeyed.”

It is anticipated a civil suit could be filed against the church by the first woman alleging abuse within the next few days, according to Craig Vernon, attorney for the original woman.”

Case facts

Case videos

    • Video title: Mormon Stories #885: The Unpunished Sexual Abuses of Former MTC President Joseph L. Bishop Pt. 3 - 2018-03-20
    • Video description: "We interview Ryan McKnight, founder of MormonLeaks, where we discuss a recently released audio recording of Joseph L. Bishop (former President of Weber State University, former LDS mission president in Argentina, and former president of the Provo Missionary Training Center) as he is confronted by one of his sexual abuse victims. In this recording Joseph Bishop apologizes to his victim, in response to her accusations, and admits sexually inappropriate conduct with several victims before and during his time as MTC President. He also admits in the interview that he experienced no disciplinary punishment by the LDS church for his abuses."

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