Woman’s fraud case against LDS Church for alleged cover-up sent to settlement

Woman’s fraud case against LDS Church for alleged cover-up sent to settlement
By McKenzie Stauffer

A woman, who accused The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of covering up an alleged sexual assault by the president of its Provo Missionary Training Center, had the last two items of her lawsuit sent to a settlement hearing.

McKenna Denson’s allegations against Joseph Bishop and the Church were dismissed more than a year ago, because of the statute of limitations had passed.

A judge, however, ruled the two counts of fraud still stand because an alleged-cover-up was discovered.

On Friday, a jury trial was vacated and the fraud allegations were referred to magistrate Judge Cecilia M. Romero for settlement. Court documents state the parties must meet within the next 14 days to schedule the conference, which must happen within the next two or three months.

Denson informed the court in a motion of compel that items in the case, including a recording, have gone missing. “To help facilitate the resolution of Defendant’s motion, however, the court hereby orders Ms. Denson to provide a sworn affidavit concerning the missing evidence…” within the next 30 days, court documents state.

The case is stayed for 90 days to allow Denson and the Church to focus on mediation.

In January, Denson considered dropping her lawsuit after she failed to find legal representation.

Denson’s former attorney’s Craig K. Vernon and Jeffrey R. Orbitt withdrew from Denson’s case on June 3, 2019.

She said three firms were reviewing her case, but that it’s hard to find an attorney because firms are “intimidated” by the Church.

Two women, including Denson, have accused Bishop, who’s now in his 80s, of misconduct when he was the MTC president.

He told Brigham Young University’s police department during an interview that he confessed to a bishop that he asked to see a missionary’s breasts and gave another missionary a back rub.

“She accused me of trying to rape her,” he said. “I don’t have any, any recollection, anything like that.”

Denson later claimed she told Carlos Asay, a general authority for the Church, what happened to her. In 2017, she recorded a conversation with Bishop about it.

“She said, ‘Did Elder Asay ever approach you?’” Bishop said in 2017, “and I said, ‘No, he never did,’ and then I got to thinking later — that, that someone had called me that probably came from Elder Asay’s office, and I had told them about what I’m telling you and that I had taken care of it ecclesiastically.”

These words contradicted a 2018 statement from the Church, which said “We have no record of an interview between Asay and this individual,” referring to Denson. The Church originally said it first learned of the accusation in 2010.

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