A Utah judge approved a woman’s lawsuit against the Mormon church over an alleged rape Monday, ruling against the church’s request to dismiss her claims.
The woman alleged in her lawsuit that Joseph L. Bishop, former president of the Missionary Training Center in the 1980s, raped her 34 years ago. The church requested that her lawsuit be dismissed on the grounds that the alleged rape took place so long ago, making it difficult to find relevant evidence and key witnesses, as some have died since the incident. (RELATED: Woman Accuses 85-Year-Old Ex-Mormon Missionary Of Rape)
Now that the judge has allowed the case to move forward, however, attorneys for the prosecution can begin investigating whether there are any other alleged victims of Bishop.
“The church represented to McKenna and everybody else that he was good guy, he was safe and he was trustworthy, he was not a sexual predator, he was not a sexual addict,” attorney Craig Vernon said, according to The Associated Press. “We believe there is evidence the church in fact knew that was not true.”
U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball dismissed three of the woman’s four claims, including the claim against Bishop since the statute of limitations has passed. Kimball allowed the claim of fraud to stand, however, because the woman said she only discovered the church tried to cover up the alleged sexual assault when she confronted Bishop in 2017.
The woman recorded her meeting with Bishop, during which he said he had confessed to church leaders that he had perpetrated “incidents of sexual predation” in the 1970s. Instead of disciplining Bishop, the church appointed him as the president of the Missionary Training Center.
Eric Hawkins, spokesman for the Mormon church, said the church is “confident in the legal system to evaluate these claims and determine the truth. As the Church has repeatedly stated, there can be no tolerance for abuse.”
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