MTC ready for tours, media get first glance 30

The outside of the new MTC buildings are seen during the media day tour of the new Missionary Training Center buildings in Provo on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Sammy Jo Hester, Daily Herald

The Utah County Attorney’s Office reportedly closed the case of a woman who said Joseph Bishop, a former president of the Missionary Training Center, raped her while she was training to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The County Attorney’s Office said the window of time limited by law at the time of the reported incident, also known as the statute of limitations, had expired.

The case was closed Dec. 23 after a woman made contact with Brigham Young University police on Nov. 28 to report that Bishop sexually assaulted her on MTC property in 1984, according to BYU police reports.

Deputy Utah County Attorney David Sturgill told police and the woman that, due to the statute of limitations, the case could not be prosecuted, according to reports.

“After thorough review and careful consideration, I have determined that I cannot pursue criminal charges against Mr. Bishop. 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’s report states.

“The alleged rape occurred in 1984,” Sturgill added. “At that time, the statute of limitations was four years. The statute remained the same for over a decade, and I am now convinced that nothing occurred to toll it.”

According to reports, the woman told BYU police that while at the MTC, Bishop asked her to come with him from a classroom to see a room where he would prepare for his duties. The room had a bed, TV, VHS tapes and chair. The two sat on a bed, at which point he tried to kiss her, though she resisted.

The report states, he then forcibly undressed her, pushed her onto a bed and engaged in intercourse without her consent.

Bishop met with police Dec. 5.

“Joseph’s account was fairly similar to (the woman’s), except for the rape,” reports state.

Bishop said he went to his small MTC preparation room with the woman, and asked her to show him her breasts, reports state.

When Bishop was asked to explain why his account about the rape was different than hers, he said he either can’t remember it or that her account was exaggerated. He said he doesn’t remember the room having a bed, TV or VHS tapes, according to reports.

The woman met with Bishop under the guise of a reporter in 2017. She told him she wanted to speak to him about his church service, but instead confronted him about the 1984 incident. He reportedly said he committed all the acts described, omitting the alleged rape and the layout of the room, and apologized for his actions.

“(The woman) recorded the conversation and provided us a copy of it,” police reported.

After police interviewed Bishop, the woman called police and said that Bishop called her saying that he told the police about everything except the alleged rape.

“We made contact with Joseph and told him he shouldn’t have contact with the victim since he is involved in a criminal investigation as the suspect,” police reported. “He agreed he wouldn’t and wanted to tell us that (the woman) said he was part of a bigger picture and that she told him she wanted to expose the LDS church to this.”

After the incident in 1984, the woman avoided Bishop during the rest of her time in the MTC, finished training there and went on her mission. Starting in 1998, she made multiple reports of the incident to the LDS Church.

In 2010, she contacted LDS Church headquarters in an attempt to find out the results of her reports and if Bishop had been disciplined. When they told her she couldn’t get that information, she made a threat over the phone about killing Bishop. Pleasant Grove police officers interviewed her; no charges were filed, reports state.

The woman also told police about another female missionary she believed may have been assaulted during the same time. Attempts to identify and locate her have been unsuccessful, according to reports.

“(The woman) also thanked us for our time in investigating her case,” according to reports.

Rhett Wilkinson is the crime and courts reporter for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at​