LDS Church, ex-MTC leader renew request to dismiss sex abuse lawsuit

SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and an ex-leader of the Missionary Training Center have renewed requests to dismiss a lawsuit by a woman alleging she was raped while there.

In new court filings this week obtained by FOX 13, Joseph Bishop and the LDS Church’s Corporation of the President ask for McKenna Denson’s lawsuit to be dismissed. They argue the statute of limitations on her sexual abuse claims have long expired.

“According to her own allegations, Ms. Denson knew enough in 1984 to assert her claims against COP. Specifically, based on her own allegations, she knew by 1984 that, contrary to any alleged representations by COP, Mr. Bishop was not ‘safe, honorable, and trustworthy.’ Accordingly, the statute of limitations for her fraud claims began to run at that time and expired in 1987. Her claims filed in 2018—over thirty years later—are untimely and should be dismissed,” Church attorney David Jordan wrote.

Bishop’s attorney agreed that the statute of limitations had expired, and also argued that her court filings to keep the lawsuit alive have failed to contain specific claims against him — but are directed at the LDS Church instead.

“In sum, it appears that Ms. Denson hopes that she can establish liability against Mr. Bishop simply by including him in arguments that are really about the COP,” Bishop’s attorney, Andrew Deiss, wrote.

Denson sued the LDS Church and Joseph Bishop earlier this year, accusing him of sexually abusing her as a young sister missionary at the MTC in Provo in 1984. However, Denson’s lawyers argue it wasn’t until December 2017 when she discovered allegations of prior bad conduct by Bishop and accuses the LDS Church of doing nothing about it.

Last year, Denson confronted Bishop, now 85, about the alleged abuse and recorded him acknowledging some misconduct. However, he has denied any rape occurred. The recording was posted on the MormonLeaks website, where it spawned criticism of the LDS Church and whether it has done enough to protect victims of sexual abuse.

U.S. District Court Judge Dale Kimball has scheduled a hearing later this month to hear arguments on the LDS Church and Bishop’s requests to dismiss Denson’s lawsuit.