SALT LAKE CITY — A Colorado woman who alleges an LDS Church leader raped her while she attended the Missionary Training Center 34 years ago asked a federal judge Tuesday to reject the church's effort to dismiss her civil lawsuit.
Both The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and former MTC President Joseph L. Bishop say the statute of limitations on McKenna Denson's claims ran out years before she brought her allegations forward.
But Denson's attorneys argue in a new court filing that the church hid the "dangers lurking" at the MTC and Denson only became aware of Bishop's "dark secrets" in December 2017.
"Defendants concealed their knowledge of, and complicity in, defendant Bishop's evil activities, before he was elevated to the position of MTC president," states Denson's response to the church's motion last month to dismiss the case.
Bishop has denied the allegations.
The lawsuit claims Denson made 10 reports about the sexual assault to various LDS leaders over the years without learning if any action had been taken against him.
Denson, 55, of Pueblo, Colorado, sued Bishop, 85, of Chandler, Arizona, and the LDS Church in U.S. District Court for sexual assault and battery, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud, fraudulent nondisclosure and fraudulent concealment.
The church contends Denson's assault claim expired in early 1985, one year after the alleged rape, and her emotional distress claims expired in early 1988.
In 1984, the statute of limitations for rape in Utah was four years. The lawsuit, however, says the statute of limitations for fraud has not run out because Denson claims she first learned the church had taken no action against Bishop last December.
"Defendants had been hiding — that prior to ever being called as MTC president in 1983, defendant Bishop had engaged in sexual improprieties and acts of sexual predation — and defendant (the church) knew about it," the lawsuit says.
Denson posed as a reporter last December to confront Bishop, who served as MTC president from 1983 to 1986 and as president of Weber State College in the 1970s Her allegations became public when a website released their taped conversation and its 76-page transcript.