Woman stands before Mormon leader’s congregation and accuses him of raping her

According to a lawsuit filed by McKenna Denson, she was raped by the a man in charge of training missionaries for the Mormon church back in 1984. This past Sunday, she showed up to his church in Arizona and told his congregation that they’re providing cover for a “sexual predator.”

As AZCentral points out, Joseph L. Bishop, now 85, ran the Mormon Church’s main Missionary Training Center back in the 80s and headed an operation that trained hundreds of young missionaries. It’s not clear if he was at the church when Denson addressed the congregation, but a YouTube commenter says he’s the man with white hair at the 0:36 mark.

In a video posted to YouTube, Denson, now 55, stands at a podium and begins to tell her story. When it became clear that she wasn’t there to sing the praises of Mormonism, a man approached her and told her to sit down, but she refused.

“For the atonement to take place, we have to be accountable for what we do,” Denson said as the man tried to shut her down.

Then things got a little ugly.

As Denson tried to get her message out, another man approached from behind and they began to try to physically remove her by grabbing her arms and shoulders.

“Call the police!” she told the audience before telling the men not to touch her.

“In order to keep the church safe we need to hold sexual predators accountable, whether they are pedophiles or whether they are rapists like Joseph Bishop,” Denson said.

She was finally persuaded by one of the men to leave.

Responding to the incident, a church spokesperson said that personal grievances should be dealt with without interrupting church services.

“It is disappointing that anyone would interrupt such a worship service to bring attention to their own personal cause,” the statement said according to AZCentral. “Recording and posting of these disruptions on social media to seek public attention and media coverage, sadly, shows an unfortunate lack of respect for others.”

Denson is running out of options. A couple of weeks ago, most of her case was dismissed by a judge because the statute of limitations had passed. As the Friendly Atheist‘s Hemant Mehta points out, the judge also happens to be employed by the Mormon Brigham Young University.

Denson’s story first gained attention when she anonymously posted audio of a secretly-recorded interview she did with Bishop to the watchdog website MormonLeaks. Although he doesn’t admit to raping her, Bishop can be heard apologizing to her and admitting to molesting another woman.

Featured image via screen grab


Sky Palma

Before launching DeadState back in 2012, Sky Palma has been blogging about politics, social issues and religion for over a decade. He lives in Los Angeles and also enjoys Brazilian jiu jitsu, chess, music and art.