A 55-year-old woman has accused an 85-year-old former Mormon missionary center president of raping her in 1984, denying his claim that she willingly exposed herself.
The unnamed woman claimed Thursday that Joseph L. Bishop’s narrative that the she exposed herself to Bishop willingly after he asked her to reveal her breasts was false, according Craig Vernon, the unnamed accuser’s attorney. Vernon says his client stands by her claim that Bishop forcibly raped her, according to The Associated Press.
A police report released Wednesday also revealed that Bishop admitted to being a “predator” and to grooming the woman, among others, during his time as president of the LDS Missionary Training Center, in a secretly taped December interview with the woman from December.
A watchdog group known as MormonLeaks released audio of the secretly recorded interview between Bishop and the woman on March 19. The woman told The Salt Lake Tribune that someone released the interview to MormonLeaks without her consent.
She pressed Bishop in the interview to admit what she alleged he had done to her and other women. The woman accused him of grooming her, and he apologized profusely, telling her she should be angry and that he was a “hypocrite” an “addict” and a “predator.” Bishop never specified exactly what he had done, beyond giving another female missionary student a back rub that he said got “frisky.”
The woman interviewed Bishop after going to Brigham Young University police in November of 2017 to tell them that she wanted to report that someone had sexually assaulted her in 1984. She only spoke with the police in detail about the alleged assault on Dec. 5, after interviewing Bishop on Dec. 2.
The woman specifically alleged that Bishop took her into a preparation room, ripped off her blouse and other clothes, and raped her, according to the Tribune. She also alleged that she reported the assault in 1987 to a bishop, but the bishop told the Tribune that he did not report her allegations because he felt they were “groundless” and “far-fetched.”
Deputy Utah County Attorney David Sturgill said that he could not press charges against Bishop because the statute of limitations for reporting a rape, which in 1984 was four years, had passed, but he believed the woman.
“I have no reason to doubt the victim’s disclosure, and would have likely prosecuted Mr. Bishop, but for the expiration of the statute of limitations,” Sturgill wrote in his report, according to the Tribune.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is investigating Bishop and engaging in settlement negotiations with the woman.
The woman told Bishop in the recorded interview that the burden of the experience ruined her life.
“I have carried this, and it has destroyed my life,” she said.
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