Lawyers for a woman suing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, accusing the former head of Provo’s Missionary Training Center of sexual misconduct, have dropped out of the case.
Attorneys Craig K. Vernon and Jeffrey R. Oritt filed a motion Friday in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City asking to be removed from the case of McKenna Denson, and Magistrate Judge Dustin B. Pead approved the request the same day.
The attorneys’ motion was sealed, and a spokesman for Vernon said Monday there was “no comment at this time” regarding why they opted to stop representing Denson.
For her part, Denson did not return a call Monday from The Salt Lake Tribune seeking comment. She told FOX13 that she was “searching for a bigger law firm.”
Eric Hawkins, a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said Monday the church would have no comment on the case.
Pead’s approval of the attorneys’ motion puts the lawsuit on hold and gives Denson three weeks to find new lawyers.
In her lawsuit, Denson, who lives in Pueblo, Colo., accused Joseph L. Bishop, who now lives in the Phoenix area, of raping her in 1984 at Provo’s MTC, where he was president.
Bishop denied the allegations, and last year was dismissed as a defendant, along with part of the case against the church. A fraud claim alleging a cover-up remains pending against the Utah-based faith.
In May, Pead ordered the church to identify any women who accused Bishop of sexual misconduct, and to identify all women who were at the Provo MTC, the faith’s flagship training center for missionaries, at the same time as Denson.
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