Mormon sex in chains case

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The Mormon sex in chains case was a widely reported scandal involving a sexual assault by an American woman, Joyce McKinney, on a young American Mormon missionary, Kirk Anderson, in England in 1977. According to Anderson, he had been abducted by McKinney from the steps of a church meetinghouse, chained to a bed and raped by her. Before the case could be tried, McKinney jumped bail and fled to America.


A young Mormon missionary named Kirk Anderson went missing in 1977, in Ewell, Surrey, after he was abducted from the steps of a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[1] A few days later a freed Anderson made a report to the police that he had been abducted, driven to Devon, and imprisoned against his will, chained to a bed in a cottage, where Joyce Bernann McKinney (b. August 1949) — a former (1973) Miss Wyoming World[2][3][4][5] (as Joy McKinney[6]) — had abducted, attempted to seduce, and then raped him.[7][dead link][8] The case became known by many sobriquets, including "The Mormon sex in chains case" and "The Case of the Manacled Mormon."

Judicial proceedings[edit]

On 19 September 1977 McKinney was arrested and charged, but vigorously denied the charges. While being taken to Epsom for a court appearance, she held a notice up at the window of the police vehicle saying, "Kirk left with me willingly!"[9] Press reports and McKinney's lawyer refer to the size differential between McKinney, described as slightly built, and Anderson, described as substantially larger.[10][11]

Along with Keith May, her co-conspirator, McKinney jumped bail and fled the country.[12] On 18 July 1979, they were both arrested in the United States by the FBI on charges of making false statements in order to obtain passports.[13] They both received suspended sentences.[14]

No extradition proceedings were instituted by Britain, and the English court sentenced McKinney in absentia to a year in jail.[15] Under the then-Sexual Offences Act 1956, due to the victim's gender, there was no crime of rape committed, though indecent assault of a man applied.[16]

Coverage in the media[edit]

The coverage in British newspapers in the final months of 1977 was extensive and highly prominent.[1] Some newspapers sought to obtain "scoops" on the story, and to undermine each other as they managed to obtain and publish exclusive information. For example, the Daily Mirror researched McKinney's past and reported over several days that she had been a nude model. The Daily Mail attempted to devalue the Mirror's reports by advertising itself as "The paper without Joyce McKinney."[17]

Brian Whitaker observes that the case provided "light relief" for the newspaper-reading public, from more serious stories about politicians.[17] Roger Wilkes states that the coverage of the case "cheered Britain up no end."[18] A Church of Scotland working party on obscenity in 1979 observed the "gusto" with which newspapers covered and followed the case, noting the accompaniment of the coverage by "the kind of illustration which a decade ago would have been under plain sealed cover."[19]

The coverage was extensive in part because the case was considered so anomalous, involving as it did the issue of rape of a man by a woman. Backhouse and Cohen reported in 1978 that many men, privately, expressed their disbelief of such a possibility.[20]

The case was documented in Joyce McKinney and the Manacled Mormon,[21] a book by Anthony Delano in 1978, who based his work on assembled Daily Mirror coverage.[22] British band Radio Stars also detailed the story in the tune 'Sex in Chains Blues' on their Holiday Album release on Chiswick Records (1979).

Later developments[edit]

In 1984 McKinney was again the subject of police action for allegedly stalking Anderson at his workplace, though he was now married with children.[15][23]

In 2008 "Bernann McKinney" appeared in the media after having her pet dog cloned in Korea. Journalists attempted to tie the two incidents together in articles that claimed some facial similarity between "Bernann McKinney" and Joyce Bernann McKinney.[12] After initial denials[3][10][24] the International Herald Tribune and other publications carried an admission by McKinney that she was the person named in the 1977 case.[11]

The revival of interest in the story led the documentary filmmaker Errol Morris to produce his 2010 film, Tabloid, based on the media sensation surrounding the story.[25] The film gives extra details, from press reports of the day and from participants in the story, to the use of a (possibly fake) gun during Anderson's abduction, and Anderson being tied up during his alleged rape by McKinney.[26] The film also gives further details regarding McKinney's work as a call girl, earning funds for her team's international adventure by offering bondage and S&M services around the time she became obsessed with Anderson.

Anderson is now a real estate agent, and shies away from publicity. McKinney is reported to now use a wheelchair for mobility, and lives in Newland, in the western North Carolina mountains.[10][23] Keith May, her co-conspirator, died in 2004.[27]

In January 2016, McKinney filed suit against Errol Morris, claiming that she had been misrepresented in the film and that Morris and others related to the documentary's production had broken into her home, stolen personal items related to the case, and threatened the life of her service dog if McKinney did not sign release papers allowing them to use her footage for the film. Legal representatives for Morris stated that "evidence will show that [McKinney] willingly — in fact, eagerly — participated in the lengthy interview that is featured in the film." [28] Morris stated in an interview later that year that the charges had been dismissed as "frivolous."[29]


  1. ^ a b Fernandes 1999, pp. 489
  2. ^ Dobner, Jennifer (2008-08-10). "Cloned-dog owner is '70s fugitive". The Associated Press. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  3. ^ a b Bone & Kennedy 2008
  4. ^ "Corrections". St. Petersburg Times. 2008-08-13. pp. A.1. 
  5. ^ "Setting it straight". The Sacramento Bee. 2008-08-13. pp. A2. 
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-10-21. Retrieved 2014-12-19. 
  7. ^ "Joyce McKinney". Archived from the original on 10 August 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-22. I love him so much that I would ski naked down Mount Everest with a carnation up my nose if he asked me to. 
  8. ^ Delano 1978[page needed]
  9. ^ Barret, Frank. "Joyce McKinney". Jamd. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  10. ^ a b c Gordon 2008
  11. ^ a b AP 2008
  12. ^ a b Batty 2008
  13. ^ "Beauty queen back in FBI's custody". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. 1979-07-20. p. 4. 
  14. ^ Brunton 2008
  15. ^ a b O'Neill 2008
  16. ^ "Sexual Offences Act 1956 (c.69), section Intercourse by force, intimidation, etc". Office of Public Sector Information. Retrieved 2009-02-24. 
  17. ^ a b Whitaker 1981, pp. 39, 55
  18. ^ Wilkes 2002, pp. 286
  19. ^ CoSWP 1979, pp. 29
  20. ^ Backhouse & Cohen 1978, pp. 163
  21. ^ Fillion 1996, pp. 331
  22. ^ Woestendiek 2010
  23. ^ a b Dobner 2008
  24. ^ Peterkin 2008
  25. ^ Scandal and Subjective Reality in Errol Morris's Tabloid Village Voice 13 July 2011
  26. ^ "Why they're calling this snobby Titanic show 'Drownton Abbey'". Irish Independent. 2012-03-31. Retrieved 2015-01-17. 
  27. ^ Leonard, Tom (2011-08-12). "I still love my manacled Mormon: 'Madam Mayhem' Joyce McKinney who kidnapped missionary with mink-lined handcuffs is still defiant as film is made of her life". Daily Mail. London. 
  28. ^ Gardner, Eriq (2016-01-15). "Errol Morris Heads to Trial Against Irate Plantiff at Center of 2011 Documentary 'Tabloid'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  29. ^ Brown, Phil (2016-10-14). "Errol Morris on The B-Side and His Donald Trump Short". Collider. Retrieved 2018-02-16. 

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