United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
A. KIMBALL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the court on Defendants the Corporation of
the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
Saints' (“COP”), and Joseph Bishop's
(collectively “Defendants”) Motions to Dismiss.
On July 18, 2018, the court held a hearing on the motions. At
the hearing, the Plaintiff McKenna Denson
(“Denson”) was represented by Craig K. Vernon and
Jeffrey R. Oritt. Defendant COP was represented by David J.
Jordan and Wesley F. Harward and Defendant Bishop was
represented by Andrew G. Deiss. The court took the motions
under advisement. Based on the briefing filed by the parties
and the law and facts relevant to the pending motion, the
court issues the following Memorandum Decision and Order
GRANTING in part and DENYING in part the COP's Motion to
Dismiss and GRANTING Bishop's Motion to Dismiss in its
case involves claims arising from an alleged sexual assault.
In 1983, Bishop was called by the COP to be the President of
the Mission Training Center (MTC). Bishop accepted the
position and served as the President of the MTC in Provo,
Utah from 1983 to 1986. Prior to being the President of the
MTC, Bishop was the President of the Buenos Aires North
Mission in Argentina from 1978 to 1982.
Complaint asserts that Bishop is a self-proclaimed sexual
predator and sex addict.Compl., at ¶ 16. Bishop allegedly
admits to being a sexual predator and sex addict his entire
life and further admits to engaging in a pattern of
inappropriate sexual conduct toward women throughout his
life, including prior to being called as the MTC president.
Id. Bishop's sexual improprieties include
incidents with a woman while he was both serving as a young
missionary in Argentina, and also as the Mission President in
Argentina. Id. He also allegedly engaged in similar
sexual improprieties while serving in a bishopric in
Florida. The Complaint asserts that “Bishop
admits to disclosing some details of inappropriate sexual
actions toward women to his mission president and to his
church leaders in Florida.” Id.
to serving as a mission president in Argentina, Bishop was
the President of Weber State University. Id. at
¶ 17. While in that position there allegedly were public
claims, known to Church leaders, of Bishop acting
inappropriately toward women and allegations of dishonesty
and lack of integrity. Id.
disclosing to Church leaders previous incidents of sexual
impropriety, Bishop was called as President of the Buenos
Aires North Mission in Argentina in approximately 1978, where
he was placed in charge of hundreds of young missionaries,
male and female. Id. at ¶ 18.
1977, Elder Robert E. Wells was the Church's area
representative for Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
Id. at ¶ 19. Elder Wells was responsible for
the activities of the area missions and their leaders,
including Bishop. Id.
his tenure as Mission President in Argentina, Bishop
counseled one of his sister missionaries who was allegedly
“besieged with evil spirits.” Id. at
¶ 20. The complaint alleges that according to Bishop,
those spirits attacked him. Id. To save his soul, he
decided to confess all his previous sins. Id. Bishop
disclosed to Elder Wells every indiscretion, sin, or other
misdeed that had occurred up to that point in his life,
including his sexual addiction and previous instances of
sexual predation against women. Id.
Bishop's disclosure of his sexual improprieties to Elder
Wells, there allegedly is no indication that the COP acted to
investigate these possible crimes or investigate whether,
under its own internal policies, Bishop should be subject to
Church discipline. Id. at ¶ 21. Denson alleges
that Church discipline would have protected her and other
women by alerting them of Bishop's dangerous
than facing Church discipline for his sexual misconduct,
Bishop was called to serve as the President of the MTC.
Id. at ¶ 22. Bishop was elevated to a position
where he had authority over thousands of young women who were
training to be missionaries. Id. Denson was one of
these missionaries under Bishop's authority. Id.
at ¶ 23.
alleges that she had a traumatic and challenging adolescence,
including past physical and sexual abuse. Id. She
had a baby prior to marriage that she gave up for adoption
through LDS Social Services. Id. Denson received
special permission to serve a mission for her Church and
entered the MTC in January of 1984. Id. at ¶
believes that she was singled out by Bishop from her first
day arriving at the MTC. Id. at ¶ 25. The day
Denson entered the MTC, Bishop selected her out of thousands
of missionaries to bear her testimony. Id. The
following meeting Bishop asked her to say the prayer.
Id. Over the next few weeks, Denson was called out
of class on multiple occasions to go to Bishop's office,
where she met with him and other sister missionaries who had
similar traumatic upbringings. Id. at ¶ 26. In
these meetings, Bishop would ask Denson and other sister
missionaries specific questions about their childhoods and
their family's activities in the Church. Id.
Each woman spoke of their traumatic childhoods and how they
had each endured sexual abuse. Id.
several of these meetings, Bishop allegedly began calling
Denson to his office alone. Id. at ¶ 28. During
their one-on-one meetings, Bishop allegedly discussed
previous sexual encounters he had with his wife and other
women. Id. Over time Bishop asked Denson to go with
him to a special room in the basement where he did his
“preparations.” Id. at ¶ 29. He
escorted her out of his office, down a hallway and through a
locked door which led to another hallway or tunnel that was
dark and dusty. Id. This hallway or tunnel led to
what Denson describes as a storage room. Id. Bishop
unlocked the door to the storage room, escorted Denson
inside, turned on the light and closed the door. Id.
The room had no windows, but was furnished with a small bed,
a TV, and a VHS player sitting on a small table. Id.
There was also a metal chair in the room. Id.
inside the room, Bishop led Denson to the bed and they talked
for a short time. Id. ¶ 30. Bishop stated that
he preferred this room as a quiet place. Id. Bishop
then attempted to kiss Denson, who pushed him away and got up
to leave. Id. Bishop blocked Denson from the door
and pushed her back on the bed. Id. at ¶ 31. He
grabbed her blouse and tore it open. Id. Bishop then
allegedly pulled Denson's skirt up, tearing the seam in
the back. Id. He pulled her pantyhose and garments
down. Id. He then allegedly exposed himself and
briefly penetrated her with his semi-erect penis.
Id. Denson attempted to push him off, kicking and
hitting him. Id. He forced her down again.
Id. Eventually, Denson was able to kick free and
pull her garments up enough to get out the door. Id.
As Denson was leaving the room, Bishop shouted that no will
believe you, saying “Look at you, look at me.”
approximately 1987 or early 1988, Denson revealed the details
of this sexual assault, including Bishop's identity as a
sexual assaulter, to her local bishop. Id. ¶
32. The local bishop reported the incident to the local Stake
President, who reported the incident to church headquarters
in Salt Lake City. Id. Shortly thereafter, Elder
Carlos Asay, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy at
the time, interviewed Denson and told her he would
investigate the incident and let her know the outcome.
Id. Elder Asay never contacted her about the
incident again. Id.
brings claims against Bishop and the COP for: 1) Sexual
Assault and Battery; 2) Negligent Infliction of Emotional
Distress; 3) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; 4)
Common Law Fraud; 5) Fraudulent Concealment and
Nondisclosure; and 6) Affirmative Injunctive Relief for
policy changes. Bishop and COP each filed motions to dismiss
arguing that the statute of limitations has tolled for
is appropriate under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure when the complaint, standing alone, is
legally insufficient to state a claim on which relief may be
granted. Sutton v. Utah State Sch. For the Deaf &
Blind, 173 F.3d 1226, 1236 (10th Cir. 1999). When
considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim,
all well-pleaded facts are presumed to be true, but
conclusory allegations need not be considered. Cory v.
Allstate Ins., 583 F.3d ...