Sexual abuse lawsuit against Mormon church may be dropped
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A woman who accused The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of covering for a former missionary leader who she says raped her in the 1980s said Tuesday she may be ready to drop her lawsuit against the faith.
McKenna Denson said during a court hearing that she still doesn’t have an attorney. Her previous lawyer withdrew in May for unknown reasons, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
“I’m not sure I want to secure counsel at the time,” Denson told U.S. Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead over the telephone.
Denson asked Pead if she could refile the lawsuit if she found “illegal activity” occurred during the course of the litigation. Pead told Denson he could not give her legal advice, advising her those were questions for her attorney.
Pead gave Denson two weeks to make a decision. He said she needs to file a motion to dismiss the case, express interest in mediation or choose to go to trial.
It’s unknown why her previous lawyer, Craig Vernon, dropped the case. His court motion is sealed and he he has declined to discuss it publicly.
Denson of Pueblo, Colorado, accused Phoenix-area resident Joseph L. Bishop of sexually abusing and raping her in 1984 at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, where he was president.
A judge previously dismissed part of Denson’s lawsuit against the church because the statute of limitations had passed, but allowed a fraud claim to stand because the alleged cover-up was discovered recently.
Bishop denied the accusations but acknowledged in a police interview that he asked the woman to expose herself when she was 21, according to police documents.