What I’m about to convey is going to make a few people uncomfortable, so let me just preface my remarks by establishing that I am not a critic of the Church. My articles in defense of the LDS faith have been read by well over a million people.

But I have been dismayed by the way that many Latter-day Saints are responding to recent allegations of sexual assault and misconduct by a Mission President and former President of the MTC.

Let me be clear: It is not in the interest of the Church, truth, or justice, for any member to hear an allegation of sexual abuse and respond with an attitude of mistrust toward the alleged victim. 

The critics of the Church will continue to point the finger of condemnation, and have justification, as long as we allow a culture to exist where victims face a wall of dismissiveness from their fellow Church members.

To those who believe that this woman’s accusations are not credible, it may be eye opening to hear Joseph Bishop’s side of the story…in his own words. He was very lucid during the interview, contrary to the claims of his son—you can listen to the full audio recording, here.

Admission #1: Confessing to another molestation

In her confrontation with her alleged abuser, the victim recounts how Joseph Bishop counseled both her and another sister-missionary who were both victims of childhood sexual abuse.

She had reason to believe that he was grooming her as well and asks, “Did you molest her?” Joseph Bishop responds, “yes.”

He explains that the molestation occurred when this sister-missionary ended up living with him and his wife. According to Joseph Bishop, the sister-missionary asked for a back rub. He went on to say, “And I rubbed her back and that got too much…frisky.”

He later claims that he has apologized to her and that she contacted him somehow—either personally or through a Church authority—about the molestation: “she did what you did, appropriately so.”

He goes on to minimize his actions by saying “she had others that did things to her that I didn’t do.”

The alleged victim then called him out: “Her childhood and my childhood were very, very similar. But that has absolutely nothing to do with what you did to us.”

Joseph Bishop responds, “I agree.”

Admission #2: Lifelong Sexual Addiction

Joseph Bishop responds to the alleged victim’s claims by admitting and referring to a life-long sexual addiction that he has struggled to overcome—and not just once during the interview, but 15 times.

He states: “I had an addiction.” “I have struggled. I have struggled my whole life on this very issue.”

“I used to say to myself all the time, I’m a hypocrite. Okay now what can a hypocrite do. I tried to solve it myself. I’m not going to do this anymore, I’m not going to do this anymore, I’m not going to think about this, I’m not going to, you know…” “I kept fighting it. I kept trying to pray and this and that to get over it.”

He spends a lot of time explaining what may have given rise to the addiction—not having any sisters, being turned down for a dance, being small when he was an adolescent. He goes on to say that his sexless marriage probably contributed to his compulsive behavior. He also says that in recent years he has become impotent and believes that the urges are over, that he has overcome the addiction at last.

Admission #3: Inappropriate sexual conversations

The alleged victim recounts multiple inappropriate conversations with Joseph Bishop. She says, “You told me that you liked it when you and your wife had candle lit dinners alone and she had this…—“

Bishop finishes her sentence, “…particular dress.”

The victim responds, “Yes. And you liked it when she pulled it over her breast and exposed her breast at dinner.”

Joseph Bishop replies, “Yes.”

The alleged victim goes on to say that “the fact that I was a missionary and you were my mission president and you were sharing that was the problem.”

To this, Bishop responds, “That’s true.”

The alleged victim also recounts another experience where Joseph Bishop told her of a time when a woman removed her top and exposed her breasts to him at a hot tub or hot springs. He confirmed that he had such an encounter but that the location was a little different and doesn’t remember telling her about it.

He responds, “Was I trying to titillate you?”

She replies, “You were grooming me.”

He apparently also discussed the lack of sex in his marriage with the victim—while she was a missionary. Bishop explains multiple times in the interview that he believes that this lack of intimacy was a principal cause of his sexual compulsions. On one occasion, the alleged victim interjects—“you told me that in the MTC.”

Admission #4: Ive already confessed, but wasnt completely forthright

Joseph Bishop admits—at least 5 times in the recorded interview—to confessing sins related to what the alleged victim is saying, but also suggests many times that he wasn’t completely forthright in his confessions.

Admission #5: Discussing Consequences of the Public Finding Out

The alleged victim says, “I don’t know how many women there are, but if this story went public, you would be the Harvey Weinstein of the Mormon Church. True?

Joseph responds, “I would be.”

He also says the following:

“I would be excommunicated and the Church would be embarrassed.”

“My big concern is the pain that’s going to take place. With all of my family, who love me. I have five sons who would be devastated. Their wives will be devastated. My grandchildren will be devastated. My great-grandchildren.”

Admission #6: Heartfelt apologies

Countless times throughout the interview, Joseph Bishop makes apology after apology:

“I want you to know that I’m so sorry, I want to be so honest, I want all of that…Before I die, to be done. Yeah, I don’t have anything left from the desire. I’m very careful now.”

“I want to give you an apology. I don’t know what I can do about it, because here we are, after all these years, but it just… it just hurts my heart to see you suffering like I suffered. I understand, because it’s a two-way street. I have suffered…”

An Important Conclusion:

It’s hard to imagine the guts it would take to confront her abuser in such a way…the same man who, after abusing her as a young missionary, told her: “No one will believe you. Look at me, look at you.”

And he was right. No one would believe her. She had to surreptitiously record him for anyone to take her seriously. And even then—even then—the overwhelming response has been one of dismissal.

A culture that makes it that difficult for victims to speak out, aides and abets the sinister among us who would betray our trust and violate the most vulnerable in our communities.

When a victim speaks out, we shouldn’t see it as a Church vs. the victim issue…we should see it as a Church with the victim issue.

This change has to start with the culture that every member has the power to transform.

By Dustin Phelps

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