Mormon leaders knew of two alleged victims of former Missionary Training Center (MTC) President Joseph Bishop in 2010, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Friday.
In a new statement, which follows the release of a Brigham Young University police report on Wednesday, LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said a woman referenced in a recording leaked this week had reported being sexually abused by Bishop to her local ecclesiastical leaders.
“When she reported the alleged abuse to her local Church leaders in 2010, they provided emotional support as well as professional counseling services,” Hawkins said. “Mr. Bishop’s local ecclesiastical leaders were contacted and they confronted him with her claims, which he denied, and local leaders did not feel they could pursue church discipline for Mr. Bishop.”
That woman is the second known to have accused Bishop of sexual misconduct during his tenure as MTC president. Another woman, who confronted Bishop in December during a secretly recorded conversation, alleges that he attempted to rape her in a basement room of the MTC while she was training to be a missionary in 1984.
She also reported her allegation to church leaders in 2010. In an earlier statement, Hawkins said leaders were unable to verify her allegations at the time.
Bishop’s son has denied the allegations, saying his father’s comments in the leaked recording have been misconstrued. The BYU police report states that Bishop admitted in December to asking a female missionary to expose her breasts to him.
Hawkins’ statement on Friday also acknowledged that the church has broadened its investigation into Bishop’s conduct.
In the recording, Bishop describes himself as a sex addict who should not have been in a position of counseling young women with trauma in their backgrounds. While he acknowledges an inappropriately “frisky” back rub of a female missionary — apparently the woman who was offered support and counseling in 2010 — he also alludes to engaging in other misconduct. The woman who recorded the conversation said she and the other woman had both been previously abused.
“The church is looking into all aspects of the assertions on the recording of Joseph Bishop,” Hawkins said. “This includes the work of outside legal counsel, who are interviewing priesthood leaders, family members, law enforcement officials and others with knowledge of these incidents.”
Hawkins said Mormon leaders share the anger and distress of church members who learn of incidents involving individuals “entrusted with sacred responsibilities.”
“Sexual abuse cannot be tolerated in the church,” Hawkins said. “We continue to urge our leaders to take reports of abuse very seriously.”
The woman who recorded her confrontation with Bishop reported her allegations of misconduct by Bishop to her bishop in 1987, but that man told The Tribune that he found the accusations to be “far fetched” and declined to advance them to higher authorities in the church.
Bishop also states in the recording, which the woman says was released by MormonLeaks without her consent, that he was never disciplined by church leaders for either of the women’s allegations against him.