Mormon church pushes to dismiss rape lawsuit against leader because it happened too long ago to prosecute
Joseph Bishop, the former leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Missionary Training Center. Image via screengrab.

The Mormon church is pushing to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a woman who claimed a former church leader raped her by claiming she has no grounds to sue because the statute of limitations has expired.

Salt Lake City, Utah's KUTV reported that both Joseph Bishop, the former president of the church's Missionary Training Center, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints itself filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit brought by McKenna Denson.

In a suit filed in April, Denson claimed that Bishop raped her 34 years ago when she was under his tutelage at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.

During a press conference held shortly after she filed suit, the woman described to reporters the way the former MTC president "made her feel special, interviewed her about highly sensitive sexual topics, groomed and eventually raped" her in a basement at the Provo facility.

In their motion to dismiss, Bishop and the LDS church argued that Denson's allegations are subject to statutes of limitations that expired in the 1980's. The case is currently under consideration by the Utah Supreme court, and KUTV noted that judges are debating " whether a new Utah law that eliminates the statute of limitations in sex abuse cases can be applied retroactively."

Bishop denied Denson's allegations when he was interviewed by Brigham Young University police about them in December 2017 — but did admit that he asked her to expose her breasts to him. The accuser said he never asked her to do that but rather tore open her blouse, and said his admission proves her claim that he similarly assaulted other women.

Court documents reviewed by KUTV revealed Bishop had been accused of sexual misconduct prior to taking the helm of the MTC.