LDS Church ‘committed to bringing accountability’ for sexual abuse at MTC: acknowledges second potential victim

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has issued an updated statement on allegations of sexual abuse at the Provo Missionary Training Center after an un-redacted police report was published this week.

The new statement acknowledges the LDS Church is aware of at least one other woman who informed local ecclesiastical leaders in 2010 that she was sexually abused by Joseph Bishop at 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 LDS Church states. "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."

The LDS Church previously responded to the allegations against Joseph Bishop, a former Missionary Training Center President, but released an updated statement Friday in response to the new information from Brigham Young University Police.

Bishop is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in the 1980s during his tenure at the MTC. In a recording published by MormonLeaks, the woman confronts Bishop—who told her he did not remember the assault but apologized to her and for other misconduct.

In the un-redacted police report from BYU, police say Bishop admitted to some inappropriate conduct but denied any rape accusations when he spoke with police in 2017.

The LDS Church states they are committed to bringing accountability for what occurred, saying in part: "Sexual abuse cannot be tolerated in the Church. 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."

The original accuser’s attorney, Craig Vernon, declined to comment to FOX 13’s Ben Winslow when asked if he had been contacted by other people making similar accusations or potential plaintiffs for a lawsuit.

Vernon said on Thursday his client had been engaged in settlement talks with the LDS Church prior to the recording of her confrontation being leaked to MormonLeaks and if those negotiations weren’t fruitful, a lawsuit against Bishop and the Church was likely.

Vernon released this statement late Friday:

"We agree that Joseph Bishop's behavior was repulsive and sinful. Because the criminal statute of limitations does not allow Mr. Bishop to be prosecuted, we urge the Church to continue its investigation and follow its internal procedures to formally discipline Mr. Bishop based on the facts and evidence gathered. My client is prepared to cooperate fully with the Church and testify live or via affidavit at any Church disciplinary hearing. She feels that taking appropriate action in this case will send the correct message to sexual predators like Mr. Bishop as well as other survivors of sexual assault."

Fox 13 News reached out to Bishop's family for comment Friday but has not yet received a response.

See below for the full statement from the LDS Church published March 23:

"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. 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.

We are aware of one other woman (who is referenced in the December recording) who informed her local ecclesiastical leaders that 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. 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.

On Wednesday, the Church, along with media outlets, 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.

Sexual abuse cannot be tolerated in the Church. 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."