Mormon abuse cases
Selected LDS Church cases
In 2001, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) paid a three million dollar settlement to Jeremiah Scott, after Scott filed a lawsuit in 1998 against the church for what his attorney described as an attempted cover-up of sexual abuse Scott suffered from church member Franklin Curtis. The LDS Church denied legal liability in the case, and said it was settling the lawsuit based on "litigation economics" alone.
In March 2010, former LDS Church bishop Lon Kennard, Sr. was charged with 43 felony counts of sex abuse and sexual exploitation of children, and was imprisoned in Wasatch County, Utah. In November 2011, Kennard was sentenced to three terms of five-years-to-life in prison to be served consecutively, after pleading guilty to three first-degree felony counts of aggravated sex abuse of a child for sexually abusing his daughters.
In December 2013, LDS Church bishop Todd Michael Edwards was sentenced to three years in prison for molesting two teenage girls who attended his congregation in Menifee, California. Edwards received two concurrent sentences of three years in prison for two felony counts of sexual battery and sexual penetration with a foreign object. A felony charge of witness intimidation was dismissed as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors after Edwards pleaded guilty.
In January 2014, two men filed a lawsuit in the U.S. state of Hawaii against the LDS Church, alleging that they were sexually abused as children on a church-owned pineapple farm in Maui from 1986 through 1988.
In January 2014, former LDS Church bishop Michael Wayne Coleman was arrested and charged with luring a minor for sexual exploitation after a forensic examination of his laptop and cellphone revealed sexually graphic conversations and an exchange of nude photographs with a teenaged student in Brazil.
In August 2017, former LDS Church bishop Erik Hughes pleaded guilty to sexually abusing two teenage boys from his congregation in Mapleton, Utah. The abuse occurred in June 2014 during his tenure as bishop. Hughes received concurrent 1-15 year prison sentences on the sexual abuse counts, and 0-5 years in prison for witness tampering.
On October 30, 2017, an Australian court sentenced Darran Scott to 10 years in prison for sexually abusing boys, some of whom he met as a Mormon leader.
Joseph Bishop case
In March 2018, MormonLeaks, a watchdog website, released a December 2, 2017 recording, taken in a Chandler, Arizona hotel conference room, of an interview of Joseph Bishop, a former LDS Church mission president, then 85, by McKenna Denson, a 55-year-old woman from Pueblo, Colorado. In the recording, Denson, who first poses as a Latter-day Saint sectarian faith reporter, accuses Bishop of having abused her in January 1984, while he was her mission president at the Provo, Utah Missionary Training Center, taking her to his private study with a day bed, tearing open her blouse pulling up her skirt, and successfully penetrated her against her will, her being spared continuation of the rape due to his erectile dysfunction.
Timeline of reportages
Denson may have reported the abuse to her subsequent Washington D.C. mission-field leader in 1984 or 1985. In 1987, she reported it to her local congregation's bishop (or lay pastor), Brigham Young University microbiology professor Ron Leavitt. (Leavitt told the Salt Lake Tribune in 2018, "I felt the allegations were groundless" because, among other factors, his assumption potential MTC presidents receive extensive vettings.) Per some reports what Leavitt was told was that Denson and another missionary were taken by the MTC president to the basement of the MTC and shown pornography. Denson says that in 1988 she told at least one LDS Church general authority Carlos Asay. Asay has since passed away and the LDS Church states it has no record of Denson's meeting with Asay.
In 2010, Denson told her local Pleasant Grove, Utah ecclesiastical leaders, who referred the matter to local police. Pleasant Grove police made a routine call to the Denson's home verifying she did not need emergency assistance and did not open an investigation of her accusations because they had occurred outside of Pleasant Grove's jurisdiction.
Within the recording, Joseph Bishop says he does not remember his interactions with Denson transpiring in the manner she describes. Bishop says that while president over the MTC he engaged in inappropriate behaviors of which he regrets, involving more than one young woman missionaries-in-training, including having given a back rub that became "too frisky" to a young-woman once-missionary trainee who served as his and his wife's assistant at his family's home. (This then-assistant to Bishop's family eventually reported her 1985 abuse by him to her local lay pastor in 2010.)
Bishop said that some young women missionary trainees at the MTC would have flashbacks to previous experiences of sexual trauma and would counsel with MTC leaders (in worthiness interviews) for spiritual guidance; he said he was "the last person who should have been" providing pastoral counseling to these young women. He describes himself as a sex addict.
Joseph Bishop's responses
Joseph Bishop's son and attorney, Greg Bishop of Park City, Utah, told reporters that at the time of the interview, his father and client was on medications and recovering from surgery, and lacked mental acuity, and that many of his statements in the recording reflect this confusion.
Furthermore, Greg Bishop said that sometime after Denson returned to Provo, Utah, from Washington D.C., she showed her breasts to Joseph Bishop without solicitation. Denson has denied this, stating that the last time she met with Bishop was at the time of the assault: "I did not speak to that man again until Dec. 2, 2017." Brigham Young University police say that, during their 2017 investigation, Bishop told them that at the MTC, he asked Denson to show him her breasts. (Bishop's son and attorney says his father and client does not remember making that statement to police.) The Utah County attorney's office said that it likely would have prosecuted Bishop if Utah's statute of limitations for rape (which up until the 1990s had been four years) had not expired. The case was closed December 23, 2017.
Joseph Bishop's son and attorney, Greg Bishop, distributed to the news media excerpts from a dossier compiled by attorney David Jordan of Stoel Rives, who had been hired by the LDS Church, which contained Denson's LDS Church membership record, and which detailed the history of investigations of Denson's accusations within various jurisdictions, as well as for alleged crimes such as criminal fraud. Denson had reported over a half-dozen times that she was assaulted. Jordan's dossier says that Denson later retracted her initial accusations on certain occasions as having been false. None of these accusations have been prosecuted.
The accuser's own legal counsel, Craig Vernon, made the LDS Church aware of the recording in January 2018. Settlement negotiations between Denson and church where in progress when the recording was publicly released in March 2018 by MormonLeaks, which she had not initially authorized. but came to do so, after the fact. After the recording became public, the negotiations stalled. On April 4, 2018, Denson filed civil suit in the U.S. District Court for Utah against the church and Joseph Bishop for redress with respect to her mental, physical, and economic hardships caused by the alleged sexual assault and battery, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud, fraudulent nondisclosure and fraudulent concealment.
On May 15, 2018, attorneys representing both Joseph Bishop and the LDS church filed motions to dismiss Denson's suit, arguing that the statute of limitations for Denson to file these claims had expired long before. On August 13, 2018, U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball dismissed most of the lawsuit, except for its fraud allegations against the LDS Church.
LDS church's responses
The church has not concluded its investigation into Joseph Bishop, which has involved hiring an outside law firm to interview him, his accusers, and others. The church had been made aware of a second accuser in 2010. No action was taken at the time because of Bishop's adamant denial of the accusations. One Ron Leavitt stated that in the 1980s, while he was serving as Denson's bishop, she told him that Joseph Bishop had taken her and her missionary companion to the basement of the MTC, and showed them pornography. Leavitt stated that he did not share this information with anyone at the time. "I didn't think it had much credence. I wasn't going to risk sullying the reputation of someone based on that kind of a report," Leavitt told the news media in 2018. 
In March 2018, the LDS Church publicized its abuse resource hotline for use by local church leaders, and released a resource document that says, in part, "Church leaders should never disregard a report of abuse or counsel a member not to report criminal activity to law enforcement personnel."
Child protection policy in the LDS Church
The LDS Church states that abusive behavior, whether physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional, is a sin and is condemned unreservedly by the church. The church teaches that victims of abuse should report it to their bishop, and should be assured that they are not to blame for the abuse. Abuse of any form should be reported not only by the bishop but also by the victim to local law enforcement.
Fundamentalist abuse cases
- Jeffs group
A 2017 lawsuit alleges that polygamyst leader Warren Jeffs, his brothers Lyle Jeffs and Seth Jeffs, and Wendell LeRoy Nielsen, along with 20 unnamed defendants, ritualistically sexually assaulting underaged female members of their religious denomination in the presence of other members and kept records about the abuse.
- Warren Jeffs#Sex crime allegations and FBI's Most Wanted
- Debate on the causes of clerical child abuse
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- KUTV article including interview of Leavitt
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