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PROVO, Utah, March 21, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — The LDS Church has released a response after a former missionary’s allegations that in 1984, Joseph L. Bishop — then president of the Missionary Training Center — directed her to a secluded area of the MTC facility, where he sexually assaulted her.
“These allegations are very serious and deeply disturbing,” says a statement released Tuesday by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“If the allegations of sexual assault are true, it would be a tragic betrayal of our standards and would result in action by The Church to formally discipline any member who was guilty of such behavior, especially someone in a position of trust.”
The response follows the release of an audio recording of a conversation — said to be between the unnamed victim and Bishop — by MormonLeaks, a non-profit organization that releases leaked information associated with the LDS Church.
MormonLeaks was formed, the website says, “on the belief that increased transparency within the Mormon Church results in fewer untruths, less corruption, and less abuse within Mormonism.”
MormonLeaks said it verified the audio recording before releasing it, and the Church statement refers to the recording as being between the victim and Bishop.
When interviewed by Church leaders in 2010, Bishop denied sexually abusing the woman, the LDS Church statement says.
But on the audio recording, the man identified as Bishop admits to molesting at least one female missionary in his charge, while saying he does not specifically remember attacking the woman confronting him.
“I was not strong,” Bishop allegedly says in the recording. “The last person who should have been in that situation was me. I shouldn’t have been in that position.”
The LDS Church statement confirms that the woman’s charges were brought to their attention in 2010 when she was a member of the Pleasant Grove West Stake, and discussed the issue with stake leaders.
“They listened carefully to the claims being made and then this was immediately reported to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, and the police interviewed her at that time,” the LDS Church statement says.
“The Church does not know what she said in that interview, but the Church received no further communication from the police concerning the matter.
“At the same time, the Church referred these allegations to the local ecclesiastical leaders of Joseph Bishop. Those leaders met with Mr. Bishop, who denied the allegations. Unable to verify the allegations, they did not impose any formal Church discipline on Mr. Bishop at that time.
“The matter resurfaced in 2016 when the same individual contacted a stake president in Pueblo, Colorado, and then again a few weeks ago in January 2018, when the Church was contacted by a lawyer representing her. He provided a copy of a recording that she had made of a conversation between her and 85-year-old Joseph Bishop in December 2017.
“Since that time, the Church has engaged in an investigation of this individual’s allegations. In the course of that investigation, both she and Mr. Bishop have been interviewed by outside legal counsel. Not surprisingly, the stories, timelines and recollections of those involved are dramatically different. This woman reaffirmed her allegations, and Mr. Bishop has again denied them. We have no record of an interview between Elder Carlos E. Asay (1926-1999) and this individual.
“The Church, as a religious organization, does not have the investigative tools available to law enforcement agencies. Nor can the Church substitute for the courts in adjudicating legal claims. The Church has great faith in the judicial system to determine the truth of these claims. Nevertheless, the Church takes seriously its responsibility to hold its members accountable for their conduct with respect of the laws of God and man. To that end, the Church is continuing its investigation of this individual’s claims and will act consistent with its long-standing policy of no tolerance for abuse.”
To hear the full audio recording of the conversation between the accuser and the man said to be Bishop, click on the download below (used with permission from MormonLeaks).
To read a transcript on the MormonLeaks website, click here.
To read the LDS Church statement on its website, click here.