Pueblo woman crashed Mormon Church to accuse leader of rape

McKenna Denson had traveled more than 700 miles from her home in Pueblo, Colorado, to attend a Mormon Church service in Chandler, Arizona, and didn’t waste time telling the congregation why.

Sunday was supposed to be a day of fasting and testimony at the church, and Denson strode up to the pulpit like any other member of the congregation. She introduced herself as a visitor, professed “great confidence and love for the savior” – and then she accused a former church leader of raping her more than 30 years ago.

Denson had apparently come to expose him before his own congregation.

“The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are covering a sexual predator that lives in your ward,” she told the congregation Sunday, according to video footage of the incident. “His name is Joseph Bishop. He was the [Missionary Training Center] president in 1984 when he raped me in the basement of the MTC.”

Denson, 55, had previously sued Bishop and the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in April, claiming the church failed to protect her from a known “sexual predator.” Bishop has denied raping her. On Sunday, flabbergasted church officials attempted to physically remove Denson, telling her, “I need to have you sit down,” and, “I’d love to talk to you afterward” as she continued her testimony.

It was not entirely clear from the video footage whether Bishop was at the church Sunday, but Denson claimed he was. She said on social media on Monday that she “looked him in the eye” as she spoke from the pulpit.

Denson first went public with her allegations in April, weeks after a leaked audiotape revealed Bishop confessing to being a “sexual predator” in a conversation with Denson. The taped conversation set off a cascade of criticism against the Mormon Church over concerns that a self-described predator was allowed access to young vulnerable women in need of counseling, which Bishop provided in his leadership role.

Though Bishop has denied raping Denson, he admitted in an interview with police last November to asking her to expose her breasts, according to a police report obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune. Denson filed the police report just after she confronted Bishop in Arizona under the guise of a writer seeking to interview him, before ultimately asking for his apology, according to the taped recording leaked by MormonLeaks, a nonprofit seeking to increase transparency within the church.

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