On September 3, 2018, a woman suing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints disrupted a fast and testimony meeting to confront the former MTC president she claims sexually attacked her thirty years ago.
McKenna Denson visited the ward of Joseph Bishop, who served as the president of the Mission Training Center in 1984 while Denson was serving as a missionary, and vocalized her accusations from the pulpit. Church leaders arose and calmly tried to invite Denson to leave the stand.
Eventually, Denson and two leaders of the ward (congregation) left the stand together. A video of the confrontation was captured and posted by a YouTube account dedicated to sharing videos secretly shot inside of sacred Latter-day Saint temples.
Denson also stood outside of the meetinghouse after being asked to leave, attempting to engage with those going inside and stating “your dad raped me at the MTC!”
Eric Hawkins, a spokesman for the Church, released the following statement after the incident:
“Once each month, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participate in a worship service that includes an opportunity for members to share their testimonies of the Savior, Jesus Christ, and His gospel. It is disappointing that anyone would interrupt such a worship service to bring attention to their own personal cause. Recording and posting of these disruptions on social media to seek public attention and media coverage, sadly, shows an unfortunate lack of respect for others. We respectfully request that those with personal grievances find other means to communicate their messages than disrupting the sanctity of a worship service.”
Craig Vernon, Denson’s legal counsel, has declined to comment on the incident.
In late August 2018, a federal judge dismissed the claims of sexual assault and battery and emotional distress Denson has made in her lawsuit against Bishop and the Church. The accusation of fraud is still being investigated. The claims come from a leaked audio recording where Denson confronted Bishop privately and recorded the interaction; Bishop admitted to sexual misconduct but denied raping Denson.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.