LDS Church indicates another woman has alleged abuse by former MTC president
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.