Ep 96 – Jane Doe, Joseph L. Bishop, LDS Inc.
On this episode, we dive into the recent leak from Mormon Leaks of Jane Doe interviewing Joseph L. Bishop wherein she accuses him of sexually assaulting her. There’s a lot to parse out with this story as it broke at a crucial time ramping up to the Protect LDS Children March happening at the end of this month.
PROTECT LDS CHILDREN MARCH THIS FRIDAY
Joseph L. Bishop Jane Doe Audio Recording Leak
Joseph L. Bishop Jane Doe Audio Transcript
Joseph L. Bishop Timeline
Official Church Statement of Jane Doe’s Sex Abuse Allegations
Deseret News ‘Woman Levels Accusations Against Former MTC President’
Deseret News 2010 Police Report article
Utah Statue of Limitations
HB 330 Utah Dual Party Consent Bill
KUTV Objections to HB 330
SL Tribune Two Alleged Victims of Joseph L. Bishop
MTC ‘Rape Room’ Confirmation
Deseret News Second Abuse Victim 2010 Allegations
Jane Doe March 24, 2018 Mormon Leaks Statement
Elder Robert E. Wells Bishop Book Endorsement
Katie L. Feminist Mormon Housewives Response to LDS Statement
FmHLisa Feminist Mormon Housewives Response to Victim Blaming
Steven Hassan’s BITE Model of Cult Indoctrination
Richard G. Scott 1992 General Conference Victim Blaming
Andrew Torrez Opening Arguments Podcast
Music by Jason Comeau http://aloststateofmind.com/
Show Artwork http://weirdmormonshit.com/
Legal Counsel http://patorrez.com/
For this episode I’d initially hoped to get Ryan and Ethan of MormonLeaks to talk about the story, but once I started digging into everything I realized that the subject was simply too large for 3 people to get through. We’ll get them on in the near future once the story has developed a bit more. It’s been tough deciding how to cover this topic. Would it be better to split it up over a multi-part series or just have one motherlode episode for people to listen to at their leisure? Well, I’ve opted for the latter. This episode is massive and there’s a ton of information to get through, but it seems important enough to have all in one place, and with the Protect LDS Children march coming a few days after it airs, the timing couldn’t be better. You may have to get through it in a couple sittings, but I hope you’ll consume it prior to the march this upcoming Friday. I know this podcast is usually timeless just reporting on Mormon history, but sometimes you have to zoom in to modern subjects and headlines when it’s this important, even if it does date the backlog to a certain extent.
For today, we’re going to walk through everything we know about the Jane Doe and Joseph Bishop story at the time this airs. The story is constantly developing and it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks. The dust has yet to settle, but we’re going to see what sense we can make of the story as it stands right now.
Before we broach the subject, it’s necessary to set the stage to have a healthy conversation about this subject.
Everything in this episode falls under an umbrella ‘allegedly’. The most important takeaway from the leak we’ll be discussing is that there is an active investigation going on into the contents of the leak, and until a ruling or settlement is reached, these are all allegations. Legal cases are built upon allegations because allegations become witness testimonies and affidavits which are weighted in a court of law accordingly.
These allegations are damning to the involved entities and we’ll get into those details momentarily. But, the subject here is sexual assault, one of the hardest accusations to prove in a court of law as it usually devolves to he-said she-said argument. Personally, I like to air on the side of caution. If a person claims they were sexually assaulted, it seems better to play it safe and take their claim as factually as possible. That’s not to say that false accusations don’t happen from time to time, but sexual assault is a fragile topic and should be treated with all due respect. The fact of the matter is, sexual assault ruins lives and it almost always goes completely unprosecuted for lack of credible allegations or evidence. We have a fundamental problem with reconciling the problems surrounding sex abuse, and there is no simple answer to fixing this problem. However, talking about this openly hopefully moves us closer to solutions by some extremely miniscule amount, and with that extremely miniscule amount quantified over enough time with enough of these conversations, hopefully some solutions are closer ahead than we realize.
This episode touches on some painful subjects and I’m going to use the necessary words unapologetically to deal with the present issues. If sexual assault and rape are something which trigger you, maybe skip this episode, but I hope you’ll stick with us as this is an extremely important story to have on the record.
Now for how we’ll structure this, we’ll start out with what we know of the involved individuals from all of the publicly available information. Then we’ll do a play by play commentary on the leaked recording. The recording is 2:44:00, and it’s chalked full of information that many media outlets have yet to pick up on. We’ll discuss it in detail and I’ll play some clips with the consent of the Mormon Leaks team. Hopefully, by the end of this episode we’ll have a one-stop resource to get the story from top to bottom in context. It’s my hope that after this we’ll all have enough knowledge to communicate this story effectively with someone completely unfamiliar with the story weeks, months, or even years in the future.
Final preface, there are a number of conflicting interests to take into account with this story and everybody has their opinion clouded by emotions, yours truly included. I’m no authority on this issue, this is just how the story seems to make sense in chronological format. There’s no way to make everybody happy or to not make some people mad with this story, please bear with me.
Here we go…
We’ll be focusing on three main characters today, Joseph L. Bishop, Jane Doe, and a woman we’ll know as ‘bleep’. Peppered in at various times are a few secondary characters, Elder Robert E. Wells and Elder Carlos E. Asay both of the Quorum of the Seventy the middle-management of the Church.
Joseph Bishop was born in August 1932 in Delta, Utah where he grew up and attended local public schooling. Bishop married Carol Callister in 1956 and they had five sons. In 1958, Bishop earned his Ph.D. in University Administration. He’s led a fulfilling life in academia, serving as chairman to Imperial Valley College, President of the Haitian-American Institute, Dean at Mt. San Jacinto College, Vice President of Prairie State College, and he finally became president of Weber State College in 1972.
As Joseph Bishop was advancing through his young professional career, Jane Doe was born in 1962. As she’s remained anonymous throughout the development of the story, the only thing more of her personal history the public knows is that she grew up in a household with a sexually abusive stepfather. This detail is extremely relevant moving forward.
Bishop was called to be Mission President of the Argentina Buenos Aires North mission in 1979. He served in this office until 1982. According to the leaked audio, Bishop wasn’t happy in his position as Mission President in Argentina, we’ll discuss possible reasons why when we discuss the audio. According to Bishop, President Spencer W. Kimball visited the Argentina mission while he was president and Bishop broke down into tears and requested a move. One week later he received a call from President Kimball asking how he was doing and letting him know that Bishop was on his mind. One week later, Bishop was transferred stateside and put in as President of the Provo MTC in 1982. He served in this capacity until 1986. Bishop authored and published his book “The Making of a Missionary” in 1982 as he entered the office of President of the Provo MTC. I couldn’t find it in any of the reports but from the audio it also sounds as if Bishop served in some Church capacity in Florida where he may have allegedly committed some form of sexual assault.
Jane Doe seems to have entered the Provo MTC in 1984 when Bishop was 52 years old and she was 21. The alleged rape attempt occurred during this time. We’ll discuss this in detail when we go through the recording, but according to Jane Doe, Bishop took her to a basement room of the MTC, ripped her blouse, exposing her breasts, pulled down her skirt and attempted to penetrate her, but was unsuccessful to maintain an erection and therefore allegedly committed a sexual assault without achieving penetration.
According to Jane in the audio, she was completely devastated and ended up leaving her mission early, partly as a result of the assault. This alleged assault coincided with a new education program the MTC trialed, which Bishop and his wife were put in charge of. The details of this program are unclear from the recording but after a short trial period it was abandoned. Something about the program involved Bishop working with sister missionaries who’d come from troubled homes.
Here ‘bleep’ enters our timeline. ‘Bleep’ was a sister missionary with whom Jane Doe was well-acquainted. Something occurred causing ‘bleep’ to attempt suicide while at the MTC. According to the recording, she attempted to jump from a second-story window of the MTC head first. Bishop was able to talk her down from the ledge and she was put under close supervision. According to the audio, Bishop and his wife took ‘bleep’ into their home to care for her.
In response to the troubled young adults coming through the MTC, Bishop petitioned his friend, Elder Carlos E. Asay of the Seventy to get funding to hire professional counselors. Prior to ‘bleep’s’ suicide attempt, Asay told Bishop that Apostle Boyd K. Packer had told the Seventies to encourage people to not seek psychological or counselling help, and instead go to their bishops for any problems they may be struggling with. Asay had denied Bishop’s request for funds for a counselor based on Packer’s advice, but when ‘bleep’ attempted suicide, Joseph Bishop told Asay that the responsibility would fall to Asay if anyone committed suicide in the MTC, and funding was apparently granted and counselors were brought in, likely employed by the Church.
According to the leaked audio, while ‘bleep’ was under the supervision of Bishop and his wife living in their home, that’s when Bishop allegedly molested her. The details of this molestation are from Bishop himself where he claimed to have given her a back rub but stopped before things got too far. As ‘bleep’ has yet to come forward to confirm, deny, or further enlighten the public on these allegations, all we can do is take Bishop’s at his word that sexual impropriety with ‘bleep’ stopped at a back rub.
After Jane Doe left her mission, she accused Bishop in 1984 of sexual
assault which apparently resulted in no action. She made a follow up
accusation in 1986 or ’87 and Elder Carlos Asay was sent to her home to
interview her concerning the accusations. According to Eric Hawkins,
current LDS spokesman, from the March 20, 2018 article “the Church can
find no record of a meeting between the woman and Elder Asay.”
According to Bishop in the recording, he was completely unaware of these accusations and the subsequent meeting between Jane Doe and Elder Asay. Nothing ever came of this second accusation and the meeting. Jane claims to have never heard back from Elder Asay or the Church concerning the accusations. She made subsequent attempts to contact the Church regarding the accusations and apparently nothing ever came of it.
Presumably, sometime after this meeting between Jane Doe and Elder Asay, Jane married her current ex-husband and had an unknown number of children with him. According to Jane in the audio, this husband emotionally abused her and allegedly had affairs with 14 other women while they were married. She claims he changed the number to 4 after their divorce, which eventually evolved to be mere sexual improprieties with the 4 women instead of full intercourse. Jane claims her husband was never disciplined by the Church for adultery. She attributes this marriage, the previous attempted rape by Bishop, and her sexually abusive stepfather to have engendered a personal loathing for men. Understandable emotions for a woman who’s allegedly been through this much abuse. We’ll get into the details when we go through the audio. In no way should her views on Priesthood holders or men in leadership positions within the Church taint her accusations. Her opinions of men are based on her many previous interactions and are 100% justified and reasonable. This simple fact should never be used to attack or diminish her allegations, but unfortunately, the simple fact that it was said in the audio will cause some to latch on to what she said and dismiss her entire experience and the accompanying allegations because of it.
For unknown reasons, the documentable accusations seem to have gone cold until 2010 when Jane claimed she desired closure with the man who’d allegedly assaulted her. Jane raised accusations of sexual assault again and also threatened to kill Joseph Bishop. Because of the death threat, the police were summoned to her home where they interviewed her and generated a police report. According to Jane in the recording, she had contacted the church multiple times over the years to learn the whereabouts of the investigation into Bishop. She wanted to know if he’d denied it, if he’d been disciplined, etc., the Church told her she was not entitled to that information and they were unwilling to help her. Sometime during these 2010 accusations and the following death threat, Bishop claims he confessed his sexual indiscretions to a member of the Quorum of the Seventy by the name of Robert E. Wells.
At that point, Wells told Bishop he was being considered for a position as a member of the Quorum of the Seventy. Wells told Bishop that he was removed from the list of contenders, and Bishop claims he knows why, we’re left to surmise that it was due to his confessions to Robert Wells that his named was removed from the list of contenders.
Also in 2010, ‘bleep’ apparently came forward independently with accusations that Bishop had assaulted her in the MTC around the same time he allegedly assaulted Jane Doe. From a March 23, 2018 Deseret News article by Tad Walch who’s been covering this story since it broke:
“The church statement said, "We are aware of one other woman (who is referenced in the December recording) who informed her local ecclesiastical leaders that she was sexually abused by Joseph Bishop while he served as president of the Missionary Training Center.
"When she reported the alleged abuse to her local church leaders in 2010, they provided emotional support as well as professional counseling services. Mr. Bishop’s local ecclesiastical leaders were contacted and they confronted him with her claims, which he denied, and local leaders did not feel they could pursue church discipline for Mr. Bishop."
The release said church leaders share "anger and distress church members and others feel to learn of incidents where those entrusted with sacred responsibilities violate God’s commandments and harm others."
It called such behavior repulsive and sinful.
"The church is looking into all aspects of the assertions on the
recording of Joseph Bishop. This includes the work of outside legal
counsel, who are interviewing priesthood leaders, family members, law
enforcement officials and others with knowledge of these incidents."
This release alone documents a fatal flaw in the way the Church handles these issues. According to this press release from the church-owned Deseret News, ‘Bleep’ accused Bishop in 2010, the same year as Jane Doe reiterated her accusations and threatened to kill Bishop. When the matter came to the Church’s attention, ‘bleep’ was turned over to her local bishop or stake president who provided her with counselling and emotional support, but it seems Bishop was never called to a disciplinary council for these sexual assault allegations. He was also never turned over to local secular authorities on the charges.
While this self-policing by the Church can be understandably infuriating for many of us, we’ll draw conclusions after we have more information.
The 2010 accusations leveled by Jane Doe and the subsequent death threat were turned over to the deputy Utah County attorney, David Sturgill, who said this of his investigation:
“I have no reason to doubt the victim’s disclosure, and would have
likely prosecuted Mr. Bishop but for the expiration of the statute of
limitations” The Deseret News article concludes with the following: “The
statute of limitations for rape expires after four years.”
It’s unclear whether this assertion was based on old precedent, whether it was a misunderstanding by Tad Walch, or if it was deliberate obfuscation. Regardless, the assertion published by the Deseret News is blatantly wrong. The current Utah Code concerning statute of limitations states the following in Sec 76-1-301 subtitled “Offenses for which prosecution may be commenced at any time”
(i)rape of a child;
It’s unclear what precedent the deputy Utah County attorney was using to claim Jane Doe’s statute of limitations had run out. It may have been due to the detail in Jane Doe’s recording that Bishop merely assaulted her but didn’t achieve penetration which therefore doesn’t qualify as rape. From the press releases and the redacted police report it’s unclear how the assertion was justified.
The 2010 accusations by Jane Doe and ‘bleep’ and the following police investigation into the death threat never went anywhere after 2010. According to the interview audio, Bishop was never made aware of Jane Doe threatening his life.
Fast forward to 2012, no follow up accusation seems to have arisen in the interim 2 years between 2010-2012. Bishop published his book, Peace be Unto Thy Soul. On the back of the book you find this endorsement which was reported in one of the YouTube videos produced by Thinker of Thoughts:
“Adversity is a common theme in mortality and can come to us at ay time. That fact alone makes the topic of this book so universal that it warrants being in every Church member’s home. The author beautifully combines spiritual comfort with practical wisdom—resulting in a mature, sweet, and uplifting force that moves you through remorse and suffering and into spiritual well-being. I found it profoundly spiritual because Dr. Bishop continually brings forth eternal truths pleasing to the soul. It is not only a good read but is also a good, standard go-to reference for any trying occasion.”
This endorsement was given by Robert E. Wells. If we’re to believe the tape, Robert E. Wells and Joseph Bishop have been good friends for more than 40 years. This is the same Robert Wells that Bishop allegedly confessed his problems with what he calls ‘sex addiction’ to in 2010 when Jane Doe and ‘bleep’ leveled their accusations.
Joseph Bishop went on to publish 30 Ways to Love Your Mission in 2014. The book synopsis from goodreads.com is as follows:
“To be a great missionary requires preparation, and with so much to learn, it can be overwhelming — that is, until now! 30 Ways to Love Your Mission is your handy guidebook of field-tested methods for navigating the path of missionary life. These pages are filled with simple suggestions, true stories, and inspiring scriptural references divided into three main topics:
Track positives, ignore negatives
Improve your work
Receive inspiration and revelation
Your confidence will increase as you discover tips for getting along with companions, maintaining a positive attitude, dealing with discouragement, and so much more! For anyone who has ever asked the question, “How can I be an awesome missionary?” this indispensable book has the answer.”
Given the recent revelations and allegations surrounding Bishop, this description seems to take on a haunting secondary meaning.
In 2016, Jane Doe brought the accusations forward again which didn’t end up going anywhere. It’s important to chronicle each and every one of these accusations we have evidence of. However, it can be a bit confusing as some of the media reports seem to contradict each other or are missing details. From what I can gather, Jane accused Joseph Bishop of sexual assault in 1984, 1986 or ’87, 2010, 2016, and possibly a few times in between all of those. Each time these accusations were handled by the Church or directly dealt with by Wells or Asay, members of the Quorum of the Seventy, the middle management of the Church. From what I’ve gathered, police were only involved in the 2010 instance, but that was only due to Jane Doe making death threats against Bishop. Jane attempted to go the proper channels multiple times and was unable to reconcile or reach a settlement with her alleged abuser.
In December of 2017, Jane hired an attorney who made the Church aware that they were pursuing the sexual assault allegations against Bishop. From the audio recording, it seems as if Bishop was unaware of this fact. December 2, 2017, Jane Doe posed as a reporter and interviewed Joseph Bishop for 2:44. We’ll go through the audio momentarily but first let’s discuss how this became a public story and put it into context as best we can.
Jane Doe’s lawyer sent the recording to the Church headquarters in SLC in January 2018 after the recording was made and they claimed they would handle the matter and open up an investigation into Joseph Bishop. According to the Church’s official statement:
“The matter resurfaced in 2016 when the same individual contacted a stake president in Pueblo, Colorado, and then again a few weeks ago in January 2018, when the Church was contacted by a lawyer representing her. He provided a copy of a recording that she had made of a conversation between her and 85-year-old Joseph Bishop in December 2017. Since that time, the Church has engaged in an investigation of this individual’s allegations. In the course of that investigation, both she and Mr. Bishop have been interviewed by outside legal counsel. Not surprisingly, the stories, timelines and recollections of those involved are dramatically different. This woman reaffirmed her allegations, and Mr. Bishop has again denied them. We have no record of an interview between Elder Carlos E. Asay (1926-1999) and this individual.”
According to its own statement, the Church had the recording and transcript in early January 2018.
Put a pin in the Church having the leaked audio for a minute. We’ll pick up there momentarily. In October of 2017, former LDS Bishop, Sam Young, created a petition called Protect LDS Children. This campaign seeks to end one-on-one closed-door interviews between bishops and members, especially when they include sexual questioning. One way Mormons have been combatting sexually explicit bishop’s interviews is by creating audio recordings of these interactions. The reasons and needs for recording these interviews to legally protect members and bishops alike are too numerous to discuss in this forum.
Mormons recording their bishop’s interviews without the Bishop’s consent is legal in Utah as a single party consent state. One ancillary effect of these bishop’s interviews which can’t be ignored is how it normalizes a child or young adult to being questioned about sexual matters by a trusted member of the community. Bishops aren’t trained counselors, yet the system as it currently stands requires them to ask children and young adults at regular interviews if they are ‘keeping the law of chastity’. If the answer isn’t ‘yes’ then further questioning often follows and those questions can be particularly invasive, asking the interviewee to detail their masturbation habits, how often they are in an intimate setting with another person and exactly what that intimacy entails. A degree of punishment usually follows depending on how egregious the sin is deemed to be. Masturbation once in a while can be punished by not allowing the offender to take sacrament for a few weeks, whereas anything beyond that including making out, petting, necking, nakedness, fondling, and everything involved in intimacy can merit a much harsher punishment of disfellowship or excommunication or being barred from going on a mission. The social stigma and public shame attached to sexual desires is exerted through these bishop’s interviews isn’t easy to put into words.
In the midst of these bishop’s interviews being recorded, some of which were posted online, and the Church having the Jane Doe audio in their possession, we arrive at February 6, 2018. Utah news outlets exploded with articles, comments, and opinion pieces with a new bill proposed by the Salt Lake Chamber known as HB 330. The bill proposed by Representative V. Lowry Snow and Senator Todd Weiler would make Utah a dual-party consent state. As it stands, Utah is one of 38 states which are single party consent states when it comes to audio and video recording. Any person can record any conversation they have with another person without getting consent from the other party in these states.
From the Deseret News on February 6, 2018:
“A state legislator introduced a bill Tuesday that would undo a longstanding Utah law allowing a person to record a personal conversation or telephone call without telling the other party.
Rep. Lowry Snow's proposal, HB330, would make it a crime to record a conversation with someone without their consent.
The Santa Clara Republican said the Salt Lake Chamber contacted him about running the bill before the legislative session as a way to protect proprietary business interests.
Snow said he also received a call from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with interest in the bill and a possible desire to support it. The church issued a statement Tuesday backing the measure.
"Church representatives have spoken with legislators to express support
for (HB330), which is intended to protect the confidentiality of
sensitive private conversations, including those between ecclesiastical
leaders and their members," according to LDS Church spokesman Eric
Two days later, due to the extreme backlash from Utah, national media, and online groups, the bill was retracted. The Salt Lake Tribune reported the reasoning behind the retraction on February 8, 2018:
“Lane Beattie, the outgoing president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber, said he was talking with Snow about how and whether to press forward with the bill this session.
“There were a lot of questions that came up that justifiably slowed the bill down,” Beattie said. “We’re very sensitive about” the public opinion.
Beattie said one possibility is drastically narrowing the bill, keeping Utah a one-party recording consent state and adding exemptions or scenarios into the existing law when people would need permission to record…
“We’re going to go back to the drawing board,” he said, adding that he
recognized the 45-day session was nearly halfway through and he’d avoid
a late push to pass a bill that appeared to “short-circuit public
Now, maybe the timing of HB 330 is mere coincidence given everything we’ve discussed so far. It doesn’t seem reasonable to come to that conclusion, but it could all be coincidence. However, if it isn’t simply coincidence and this HB was proposed to make recordings like the one Jane Doe created in her interview with Joseph Bishop illegal, this possibly represents an example of the Church interfering in Utah politics at some level.
At some unknown time from January 2018 to mid-March 2018, an unknown source produced a copy of Jane Doe’s audio recording to Mormon Leaks, an independent watchdog organization promoting transparency from the Church. It’s worth noting, this audio was not given to Mormon Leaks by Jane Doe. The only people with access to the audio were Jane Doe, some of her closest loved ones, her attorney, and the Church. It logically follows that this audio was either leaked by Jane Doe’s lawyer without her consent in order to put public pressure on the Church, which would be extremely unethical and likely result in disbarment; or, one of Jane Does friends sent it to Mormon Leaks. However, a third possibility exists, somebody high up in the Church with access to this extremely confidential audio could have decided for whatever reason to leak the audio. There’s no way for us to tell what crack leaked the audio. If it came from within the Church, I’m sure they’re investigating the people with access to the audio.
Finally we arrive to March 19, 2018, Mormon Leaks published the audio with a public statement attached:
“In 2017 Joseph L. Bishop, former President of the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah, met with a woman who claims he attempted to rape her while she was a missionary in the MTC in 1984.
The meeting was recorded and the audio begins with the accuser interviewing Mr. Bishop for what he thinks is an interview about leaders in the church. At [40:30] the accuser transitions the conversation to her discussing what she claims he did to her in the MTC.
A long conversation ensues in which the accuser not only discusses what she claims happened to her, but also prods Mr. Bishop into discussing his interactions with other women.
While Mr. Bishop never affirmatively acknowledges any specific actions, he admits that he has molested at least one woman and has been inappropriate with many other women. At one point he claims if the full extent of his sins were to be revealed he would be excommunicated and the Mormon Church would be embarrassed.
This audio serves to demonstrate the abuse that can potentially take place between Mormon leaders and those under their ecclesiastical charge.”
The audio instantly went viral in multiple online communities before national media picked it up. Tad Walch wrote the Deseret News article published the following day titled “Woman levels accusations against former MTC president”
MormonNewsroom, the Church’s public outlet published a statement the same day, which is quoted extensively by Tad Walch in the Deseret News article. A few relevant extracts from the Church’s press release:
“These allegations are very serious and deeply disturbing. If the allegations of sexual assault are true, it would be a tragic betrayal of our standards and would result in action by the Church to formally discipline any member who was guilty of such behavior, especially someone in a position of trust.
This matter was brought to the attention of the Church in 2010, when this former Church member, who served briefly as a missionary in 1984, told leaders of the Pleasant Grove Utah West Stake that she had been sexually assaulted by the president of the Provo Missionary Training Center, Joseph Bishop, 25 years earlier. They listened carefully to the claims being made and then this was immediately reported to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, and the police interviewed her at that time. The Church does not know what she said in that interview, but the Church received no further communication from the police concerning the matter.”
It was a mere few hours after the story went public that Deseret Book and Seagull Book, both Church publication outlets, pulled Bishop’s books from their online bookshelves. His author pages have been taken down from both sites and the public outcry in Amazon reviews of his books have taken the ratings from largely positive to barely one star. It’s reasonable to assume that the people reviewing wish they could give zero starts to bring the rating even lower.
In response to the public media attention, Mormon leaks released the following statement on March 21, 2 days after the audio went public:
“MormonLeaks™ deeply values the privacy of victims of sexual assault. We
prepared the recording of Joseph L. Bishop while coordinating
information between multiple sources, none of whom were the accuser and
it was received with no restrictions of publication. We verified its
authenticity and found it to be in line with our mission of “starting
and expanding news reporting, public commentary, and criticism related
to Mormonism” given Bishop’s blatant on tape admission to inappropriate
behavior while in a leadership position within the Mormon Church. We
eliminated all identifying information related to the victim, as is
standard protocol, in order to protect her privacy and safety.”
As media became aware of the 2010 police involvement, various journalists reached out to the Utah county Police Department in order to get a copy of the police report. The County initially released the report with all but a few select words redacted. Realizing it was an unacceptable version of the police report to release, a few hours later they released the full report with only a few minor redactions.
The Salt Lake tribune sought a statement from the bishop who heard Jane Doe’s accusations back in 1987 and reported the following:
“The woman who recorded her confrontation with Bishop reported her allegations of misconduct by Bishop to her bishop in 1987, but that man told The Tribune that he found the accusations to be “far fetched” and declined to advance them to higher authorities in the church.”
This explains why no further action was taken when the allegations first arose after Jane Doe returned from her mission, it seems her bishop made a judgement call and stopped any further investigation at that time. It is unclear why Jane waited until 2010 to pursue further accusations after being ignored in 1987, but if I had to wage a guess, I would assume Jane, in her mid-twenties at the time, was a newlywed and raising a young family and didn’t have the time or energy to pursue a battle she felt she’d inevitably lose. Nothing conclusive had happened every time she leveled accusations in the 1980s, what reason did she have to believe that continued pursuit would yield different results? That’s merely my speculation, take it for what it’s worth.
The story has since been picked up by the Associated Press and reprinted by NYT, Huffington Post, and multiple other major news outlets. It seems clear to me that whoever wrote the AP article may not have listened to the entire 2:44 interview as so many details are lacking in the majority of these national articles.
The ethics of the Mormon Leaks team have come under fire for publishing the audio without the knowledge or consent of Jane Doe. People have claimed in various comment threads including the exmormon subreddit that releasing this removed Jane Doe’s leverage over the Church to reach a settlement. In a legal sense, depending on what Jane is seeking, this is a relevant criticism. We’ll talk about this after we review the audio.
One crucial point of these accusations hinges on the existence of the room to which Bishop brought Jane Doe and committed the alleged rape. Now referred to in the media as a ‘rape room’ the existence of this room would surely provide much-needed evidence that Bishop had a room to conduct his sexual assaults. In the audio, Bishop clearly recalls the room to which he took Jane Doe and ‘bleep’ where he committed his alleged sexual assaults. However, the existence of this room has been disputed. On March 22nd, KUTV reported that an anonymous former MTC employee confirmed that the room, indeed, exists. The report reads in part:
“A former employee tells 2News the LDS Missionary Training Center (MTC) had a room like the one described by a woman accusing a former mission president of sexual assault.
The former employee, who asked not to be identified, says the room did have a bed, TV and VHS Player. Those details were key to the woman’s story, first leaked by MormonLeaks on Monday, but were contested by Joseph L Bishop when he spoke to Brigham Young University Police detectives last December. The former employee doesn’t know the alleged victim, but recognized her description of the unusual room in the basement of the MTC.
The employee said the room was in an otherwise unfinished area in a lower junction part of the building. The area provided access to the building’s water pipes, electrical lines and tunnels connected to other campus structures. It was only accessible after passing through more than one locked door. The employee said the room itself had no windows, but was fully furnished inside. The furnishings included a single bed, similar to those used in the MTC dorms, and a TV and VHS player on a mobile cart.
2News was provided with an employment document which shows the employee worked for BYU shortly after the time Bishop served in the MTC. BYU students commonly work on site at the MTC. The former employee said they were told the room was “used by the previous MTC president as a place he would take naps and sometimes pray and also watch [Mormon Tabernacle Choir] videos to help him relax.
“Based on the nature of the basement alone it would be shocking for anyone to take a sister missionary down in that basement for any reason. It was very dirty, dusty, [with] water dripping, running down the walls. It was a dark dank smelly place,” the person told 2News. “That’s why the fully built out little room down there was so odd. It had nice floors, walls, ceilings but no windows. It looked like almost any other training room in the MTC with the exception of the bed of course. It was just really odd and totally out of place.’
The former employee told 2News they felt compelled to share their
experience after hearing Bishop’s accuser’s story. They said “There is
no earthly reason she should’ve known that room existed, and no reason
anyone should’ve been in the room alone with her.”
The person who reported this to KUTV has remained anonymous for understandable reasons, but this report is crucial to adding credibility to Jane Doe’s allegations. If Bishop does indeed fit the mold of sexual predator as he admits in the audio, a room like this would have been logistically necessary for him to commit his sexual assaults. A hidden basement room with a bed and tv/vcr combination in the pre-internet world can only merit a few possible uses.
On March 24, Mormon Leaks released a public statement by Jane Doe which reads in total as follows:
“I’m the woman in the recording with Joseph L. Bishop. My identity will be revealed when I file the lawsuit.
First, although MormonLeaks did release my recording prior to my consent, Mr. McKnight and Mr. Dodge support my cause. It is my belief that they were concerned about ALL of the victims that may become forgotten if my story was silenced by a settlement and non-disclosure agreement. I cannot fault them for that. Having this story leaked has actually helped me. I was struggling with the settlement. Part of me wanted to take it and part of me didn’t. They made it easy for me. I didn’t have to choose. Some have stated that I am heroic and brave. I am neither of those things. I interviewed my rapist because I was pissed off. The church told me I wasn’t entitled to know what action, if any, had been taken in my reporting his raping me to several church leaders for 30 years. I was fed up. It was neither brave nor heroic.
Part of me wanted this to go away quietly and a bigger part of me wanted to scream from the top of the mountain what he did to me. Now I get to scream!
Even if the leak of the recording was prior to my consent, I do not agree that these men are re-victimizing me. I don’t think they would have released the recording without giving it serious thought and weighing the consequences heavily.
I look forward to sharing more of the story in the coming weeks.”
I think we’re all looking forward to Jane Doe sharing more of the story in the coming weeks.
This story is constantly evolving and expanding. Hopefully all of us are caught up on the timeline of Jane Doe, Joseph Bishop, and the multiple instances where Jane attempted to go through the proper channels to seek justice for the alleged rape. One thing we can’t escape throughout the past 33 years since Jane was assaulted is that she allegedly brought the accusations to her local Church authorities multiple times, and every single time she did, the issue was never resolved and she was purportedly completely shut down by the Church anytime she sought answers concerning the investigation into Bishop. The audio makes it abundantly clear that Bishop was likely insulated from every accusation leveled against him. It seems as if this audio recording is the first time he was made aware that anybody was bringing up charges against him.
Bishop himself has yet to address the public. He’s 85 years old, but, as you’ll hear in the audio momentarily, he appears to be completely cogent and his mental faculties seem sharp. However, his son, Greg Bishop, released a public statement addressing the audio which reads in part:
“Joseph Bishop's attorney and son, Greg Bishop, provided 2News with his own reasons for doubting the woman's story. Bishop provided 2News with a list of nearly two dozen incidents stating the same woman made false accusations against individuals and companies. Those incidents include allegedly false allegations of rape, planted evidence, and personal injury. Some of those claims included documentation. Others did not. Idaho attorney Craig Vernon represents Bishop's accuser. He tells 2News that while his client has actions in her life "she wishes she could take back," many of the claims are not true, and that Bishop's family is "running a smear campaign" to discredit her. "The tape speaks for itself," Vernon said.
On the tape Joseph Bishop admits that he gave a "back rub" to a female missionary that became too "frisky." Bishop also told his accuser that he had a "sexual addiction." He goes on say he would sometimes counsel victims of sexual abuse in his role as mission president, but because he "was not strong" he considered himself "the last person who should have been in that position." He also worried about excommunication from the Church because of his actions. He never admits to the attempted rape of the accuser referenced on the tape, and denies ever attempting to rape anyone else.
Greg Bishop told 2News that his father was released from the hospital
just days before the recorded confrontation. He emphasized the
interaction was arranged under false pretenses, and that he's
85-year-old father's memory has been failing. On his father's behalf "he
adamantly denies the allegations" made against him. Greg Bishop said his
father "has been retired for many years and is living quietly in
Arizona. He is not a public figure, and not of interest to anyone except
his family and loved ones."
The allegations Greg Bishop leveled against Jane Doe, that she has accused possibly a dozen other men for similar actions, have not been substantiated to the public beyond what 2News reported. However, his statement has been reprinted dozens of times by media outlets. Jane Doe’s lawyer said it well, the tape speaks for itself.
Following up on a lead initially raised in the ExMormon subreddit, on 25 March, 2018, John Dehlin with Mormon Stories reported on another set of allegations surrounding another former bishop tied with the MTC. This man, Dr. Richard Sampson may have sexually abused missionaries while serving as a doctor for the MTC. There will be no end to these stories cropping up unless some systematic reforms take place immediately.
That catches us up on the story as of 26 March 2018.
Now comes the time when we’re going to deconstruct the actual audio, play by play, and see what we can take from it. My examination of the audio is far from exhaustive. By doing this exercise, I merely hope you’ll understand the content of the audio if you choose not to listen to it yourself. I will strongly recommend you do listen to it on MormonLeaks.io so you can get a full understanding of the content, however, if you can’t spare the 2:44, it’s my hope that this examination will suffice to inform you.
The interview begins with proper salutations. Jane Doe operates for the first 40 minutes under the guise of being a reporter claiming to be writing stories about Mission Presidents. It’s abundantly clear that Bishop had no idea who she was before the 41-minute mark. The information at the beginning isn’t terribly relevant so we won’t discuss it, instead we’ll pick up right where she alleges that Bishop raped her. With permission from the Mormon Leaks team, I’ll be playing a number of clips, we’ll begin with this clip when the interview completely shifts. It’ll be one of the longest clips we’ll listen to, but hang in there with me because it’s extremely relevant. The audio quality is pretty terrible but I’m not cleaning it up or editing it in any way to keep it in pure form. You’ll hear silences where redactions have taken place and occasionally there will be a ‘bleep’ to denote the woman we’ve come to know as ‘bleep’ in this timeline. Please bear with me. This clip is just over 5 minutes long, but it contains so much relevant information. It begins with Jane telling Bishop that she’s been working in addiction therapy, then she goes on to accuse him of assaulting her, then she tells Bishop that she told Elder Asay of what Bishop had done, Bishop says he was never disciplined and gives Jane an apology. After that she provides the details of what happened in the basement room of the MTC. Trigger warning, this contains details of rape and this next 5 minutes may be hard for some to get through.
- PLAY 41:15-46:15
46:19 46:41 Jane threatens to kill, he asks if she has biker friends, mistakes her for another victim
46:55 47:23 Possibly mistakes her for ANOTHER victim
47:58 48:06 Admits addiction, "Lord is so forgiving"
50:05 50:47 Elder Asay interviewed Jane and Bishop never heard anything else about it, Jane asks if it's a cover up
- PLAY THIS CLIP
51:12 51:58 He admits addiction, never sought treatment, tried to pray the rape away
51:58 53:18 Hot tub breast showing in Wyoming or Utah, conversation goes off rails
54:05 54:17 Shared story with Jane about Bishop and wife public exposure, more grooming
54:18 55:32 Admits to taking her to room, calls himself hypocrite, prays the rape away
55:33 57:24 Asks how many women, Jane says she left partly because of him, shows weakness for Church defenders to jump on, doesn't get answer, shares story of sexually abusive stepfather, Bishop 'conveniently' doesn't remember raping her
57:24 58:01 Admits to 2, admits to third while bishop "BINGO!!!"
- PLAY THIS CLIP
58:03 59:33 Admits to grooming and molesting woman, calls her by name, tells of grooming details in interview with 'bleep' and Jane 'has a thing with brother Asay’
59:35 1:00:31 Bishop says he shouldn't have been in position he was given
1:00:31 1:01:44 Asked for money for counselors for sex abuse victims, Packer's speech said go to bishop instead, Asay went with Packer's advice
1:01:44 1:03:08 'bleep' tries to commit suicide, Bishop talks her down, gets funding for counselors
1:03:08 1:04:30 'bleep' came to live with mission pres and he molested her, "gave her back rub," confessed, never disciplined
- PLAY THIS CLIP
This clip starts out with Bishop saying he wanted to get out of his position as MTC President and he petitions Elder Asay to get some professional counselors in the MTC to help the women who’d suffered abuse. He talks about ‘bleep’ attempting to commit suicide and what happened to her afterwards. It should be noted that earlier in the tape, it was revealed that ‘bleep’ had suffered some kind of abuse in her home before she came to the MTC. She was put under Bishop’s care. This is the ‘frisky back rub’ clip.
1:04:30 1:05:24 Jane contacted Church, no response, Stake Pres, no response, condones his honesty
1:05:24 1:06:08 Mistakes her for another possible victim in MTC basement
1:06:08 1:06:57 Wants absolution before death, keeps himself in safe situations now
1:06:57 1:09:42 Jane has out of body experience, feels pain of abusive stepfather, says she'd rather be herself than Bishop
We’ll talk about this in a little while.
1:09:42 1:09:56 "If story went public, Bishop would be Harvey Weinstein of Mormon Church,” he admits he would, once again admitting assault in a roundabout way
1:09:56 1:11:04 Admits he didn't do things to 'bleep' that had been done to her before. He only knew through grooming interviews
- PLAY THIS CLIP
This next clip is where Bishop admits he would be the Harvey Weinstein of the Mormon Church, which has all sorts of implied meanings. He also says he didn’t do things to ‘bleep’ that others had done to her before. We can only surmise he’d learned that ‘bleep’ had been abused before entering the MTC through interviews with her, thus creating an atmosphere of sexual grooming which allowed him to molest her.
1:11:40 1:12:29 Maybe backrub was all 'bleep' reported but Jane reported to Asay what happened to her, asks point blank if it was a cover up
- Cover up with Asay
1:12:36 1:14:11 'You have no fucking idea the pain you've caused me and other women'. He has addiction, never turned down a calling where he'd have opportunities to molest again.
1:14:11 1:15:00 'It was not your first time with me' 'you are not the only one' 'how many' goes on to tell story of woman in Argentina
1:15:00 1:15:55 Admits to two more assaults, one Argentina one Florida
- It was not your first time with me, confesses to two more assaults, one in Argentina, one in Florida
1:15:55 1:17:00 Blames no sex from wife for Florida assault, assault 'titilated me'
1:17:31 1:17:57 Jane calls him a predator, Bishop told her no one would believe her, he apologizes again
1:17:57 1:20:11 Long screed about her experience how it should have trauamatized her more but wasn't first rape, felt like 'nothing' Bishop was on 'pedestal' he groomed Jane
1:20:23 1:22:18 Jane threatened to kill Bishop, called Church HQ multiple times and never got answer. Report on police filings, never any word back. Saw recent healdine of abuse Church said they're transparent, Jane calls 'bullshit'
1:22:20 1:23:43 Bishop's wife knew, 'went quietly on her way' in response to confession
1:24:09 1:25:24 Bishop can't figure out why he kept being put in leadership roles in the Church when he had this 'problem'
1:25:43 1:26:39 If people found out church would be embarrassed, Jane says they should be ashamed, other women are assaulted by other priesthood holders
1:26:39 1:27:36 If anybody finds out, it would ruin his life, apologizes again
1:27:36 1:29:31 Jane believes in repentance, Bishop admits again, Jane says 'you're going to need a good lawyer'
1:29:31 1:30:42 Bishop says she has other options, she sticks to her guns and says she has no other choice
1:30:42 1:32:20 Bishop goes into self-preservation mode, 'whole legacy is fucked', he dosen't have these problems anymore
1:32:20 1:33:00 New wife was good for him, Jane accuses him of touching her hand and looking at her breasts 3 times since she got there
1:33:00 1:34:49 Says he's flirtatious, 'it's part of your charm' 'I used my charm for the wrong reasons'
1:36:41 1:38:21 Profusely apologizes, can't get it up anymore, has addiction under control, apologizes again
1:38:21 1:39:51 'done all he can do' 'bullshit! you could confess' 'I don't remember assaulting you'
1:41:01 1:44:23 Possibly confessed to Pres. Kimball, cries in Kimball's arms, gets a call from Kimball and gets moved to Mission Pres one week later. 'it took me out of the situation, I was pres of Weber State and I had reorganized the college... there was a lot of pain.'
1:44:30 1:44:43 'had spiritual experiences and I'd done this all through my life'
1:47:52 1:48:12 Doesn't remember assaulting Jane, but doesn't surprise him that he may have done it.... fuuuuck this guy..............
1:48:12 1:49:15 Jane doesn't know what to do with all information, doesn't know if she can just go back to 'my little life' feels obligated to help other women in same situation
1:49:52 1:51:02 Jane doesn't want to cause Bishop suffering, but she has had a terrible life because of him. Bishop says 99% of Priesthood leaders are good, God-fearing men, Jane 'bullshit!'
1:51:02 1:54:45 calls himself hypocrite 'tries to be better' goes on missions to 'try to be better' forced to hide all the 'shit' he did
1:54:45 1:57:32 Has a reckoning with who he is, after 1.5 hours of conversation he finally realizes what he is and what he's done. He's never been confronted by a victim before to see the damage he'd cause, it's always been about him and the sinning he was doing to damage his own salvation
1:57:33 2:00:01 Jane tells story of her husband getting the same pass after he cheated on her. Never was punished for adultery during their marriage. She has been so horrifically damaged by her childhood and Bishop only exacerbated early damage at catalyzed later more significant damage
2:00:01 2:01:16 He says he's getting better and new girlfriends love is helping, 'that is the biggest crock of shit I have ever heard!'
2:01:24 2:01:40 Possibly a 4th time staring at her breasts, super awkward pause, 'no, I'm just gazing'
2:03:31 2:03:57 Bishop doesn't deserve a good legacy, it would destroy his family
2:04:10 2:07:05 Great summary, Church has swept this under the rug
- This clip is a really good summary of how the Church handles these issues and is able to effectively sweep problems like what Bishop created under the rug. It’s kind of long but it perfectly captures everything we’ve talked about up to this point.
2:07:13 2:08:06 Where he says he has addiction and she says it's gone untreated for 85 years, he feels it's taken care of
2:08:40 2:09:35 'Hi, I'm Joe, I'm a sexual predator, I've been clean x-number of years'
- Here he equates sexual addiction with alcohol addiction
2:09:35 2:11:16 He's overcome his addiction, he's not the same man he used to be, 'trying to rape a missionary is not normal'
2:11:16 2:14:19 Doesn't know if he can be forgiven, his position made his sins more grevious, Jane will live alone, Bishop will die soon, Jane refuses to let her daughter be put in position she was in
2:17:45 2:19:03 Should have been seventy but Asay and Wells knew about rape addiction and kept him from ascending to GA position, 'could have been great'
- This is an important clip. Bishop claims that Asay put his name in the hat to become a member of the Quorum of Seventy, but he didn’t ever get the position. He says he knows why, eluding to sex abuse allegations clouding his record. This illustrates that the higher ups knew of his
2:19:38 2:21:31 Turned down Sunday School calling to avoid dangerous situation, like alcoholic driving past liquor store
2:21:50 2:23:35 'I'm still in Lord's hands' spared his life to have this meeting to beg forgiveness
2:24:05 2:25:13 Doesn't want his name out there, doesn't want people to find out about other side of his character
2:26:42 2:27:25 'I'm looking at the next world' he'll be judged, has checkered past, 'tried to do what's right'
2:29:11 2:35:07 Husband wife couple in MTC, few weeks later he was removed for unclear reasons, 'had sister missionary besieged with evil spirits' he dealt with spirits, confessed again with no discipline, Kimball during Sao Paulo temple dedication told Bishop to cast out personal evil spirits, tried again to self-treat unsuccessfully, soon after this was made MTC mission pres
2:36:45 2:37:58 'you have so much to do before you [die]' Bishop thought he had repented, but now realizes this is what repentance is, wants to confess everything to bishop or SP
2:39:06 2:40:18 Jane weighs her options and tells what she's done legally speaking in prep for the interview, admits to blindsiding and being deceitful to get interview
2:40:49 2:41:36 Weighing out options, says they'll talk soon about this, 'this is gonna destroy my life'
2:41:39 2:43:32 'be careful of attorneys' goes on to detail his financial state that this revelation would ruin him, if only that would have occurred to him before he tried to fucking rape her...
We have a lot of information floating out there, so what can we take away from all of it?
The fundamental flaw when it comes to issues of sexual assault and these various improprieties is the fact that at the end of the day it usually all boils down to a he-said vs. she-said situation. If a court of law doesn’t have DNA evidence or a preponderance of corroborated witness testimonies, it’s like the assault never happened. But what can or can’t be proven in a court of law has nothing to do with the victims and how a sexual assault or rape changes their lives. Stories like this aren’t just allegations yet to be proven in a court of law, they’re human beings who had a life changing experience when their timelines happened to collide.
Something we can’t forget, we’re all human beings. With the exception of Jane Doe and Joseph Bishop, we’re unaffected personally by this story, but many of us are emotionally invested with trying to make sense of the situation. In order to move forward from this collectively, we need to understand and validate why people are saying what they’re saying about Jane Doe and Joseph Bishop. We all have opinions about this.
MormonNewsroom has been interesting to watch as the story unfolds.
Feminist Mormon Housewives has been quite interesting to watch as well.
Whichever side of this story you find yourself, the tribes have balkanized. Everybody is using language familiar to them to describe what they find most relevant in the story.
Here’s a few examples in the immediate aftermath:
From Mormon Newsroom:
“This matter was brought to the attention of the Church in 2010, when this former Church member, who served briefly as a missionary in 1984…
If the allegations of sexual assault are true, it would be a tragic betrayal of our standards and would result in action by the Church to formally discipline any member who was guilty of such behavior, especially someone in a position of trust.
We share the anger and distress Church members and others feel to learn of incidents where those entrusted with sacred responsibilities violate God’s commandments and harm others. Such behavior is repulsive and sinful.
In the course of that investigation, both she and Mr. Bishop have been interviewed by outside legal counsel. Not surprisingly, the stories, timelines and recollections of those involved are dramatically different.”
From Katie L. on Feminist Mormon Housewives:
“First, if you are only going to discipline abusers who meet the burden of proof required by law, you have just given a green light to predators, who rely on the fact that sexual assault is notoriously difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, and that the vast majority of sexual assaults go unreported, in order to operate. This is NOT the standard of evidence required in a situation like this and the notion that it would be is utterly absurd. Your job is to protect your people, not to prosecute crimes. Stop hiding behind attorneys and police investigations and do your duty as religious leaders, for the love of God.
Second, the betrayal at the heart of this issue is not this man’s betrayal of your precious purity standards, which are frankly irrelevant. It is your betrayal of the people who put their trust in you. Your failure to protect those who give you their bodies, lives, and souls. Your willingness to put people with no pastoral training, background checks, or vetting of any kind into positions of high leadership while extracting covenants of obedience to those same leaders upon penalty of eternal separation from family.”
Did you catch all the buzzwords and signals from Mormon Newsroom? ‘betrayal of our standards’ ‘formally discipline’ ‘someone in a position of trust’ ‘sacred responsibilities violate God’s commandments’ ‘not surprisingly, the stories timelines and recollections are dramatically different’ ‘a former Church member who briefly served as a missionary’
Those are all buzzwords to signal to members that the Church is in control of what’s happening, and Jane Doe is an apostate who left her mission early and is therefore untrustworthy. Nothing is said of the illegality of the alleged rape, the Church merely paints a picture of itself as an unaffected overseer who condemns these actions from afar, never acknowledging their hand in the process. But they’ve exercised a lot of power in the last 33 years since Jane Doe first accused Bishop, the power has been wielded by authority figures in the Church who took Bishop’s confessions and never referred him, Jane Doe, or ‘bleep’ to proper state authorities.
What about the buzzwords from Feminist Mormon Housewives? ‘the betrayal is not this man’s betrayal of your precious purity standards’ ‘your failure to protect those who give you their bodies, lives, and souls’ ‘put people with no pastoral training, background checks, or vetting of any kind into positions of high leadership while extracting covenants of obedience to those same leaders upon penalty of eternal separation from family’
All of these catchphrases and buzzwords employed by both sides of the issue have deeply implied meanings to the majority of people reading the posts, but I would contend that trying to explain all the deeper implied meanings and context of these words and phrases to somebody who knows nothing of Mormonism and English isn’t their first language would be quite a challenge.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying any of this to cast aspersions at any side, I’m merely telling the story as it happened and acknowledging that we’re all talking past each other and using language our audiences understand.
There are so many ways to view this story and the fundamental issues it exposes. It’s been a struggle to find anybody talking about the real victims in this story, everybody. I don’t say that to somehow diminish the fact that Jane Doe is a victim of Joseph Bishop, I’m saying that because they’re both victims of a system. No single person is responsible for creating this system as it currently stands, we just all contribute in small ways to not fixing it when victims are forever harmed by it. To say that Jane Doe is the only victim in this debacle would be ignoring the circumstances which led to what happened in the first place.
Let me qualify that a little bit. I’m going to share one last clip from the audio with you because I believe it illustrates a certain empathy shared between Jane and Joseph Bishop which is extremely rare in scenarios involving sexual assault. To preface it, Jane describes her near-death experience at a young age wherein she feels that she exited her body briefly and witnessed some amazing things. She describes seeing the world through her abusive stepfather’s eyes and concludes with saying she wouldn’t want to live in Joseph Bishop’s shoes after feeling the pain her stepfather had felt for abusing her.
- Out of body experience
The system failed everyone here. Jane was assaulted and Bishop has lived with the guilt of assaulting multiple women and both parties never got help when they needed it the most. They both turned to the Church multiple times for protection, yet the Church arguably exacerbated the problem for everybody involved.
Bishop knew he was going to do wrong by assaulting women but he didn’t have anywhere to go to get help. He’s a victim of the same system Jane Doe is, just from a different perspective. Jane Doe didn’t have anywhere to turn either because every time she tried to get justice or even tried to get somebody to simply recognize what happened, she was stonewalled because the Church looks out for its own and she was an outside antagonist of a trusted Priesthood holder.
We need to understand what it is we’re working with. Former Mormon listeners may empathize more with what I’m about to say than current believers, but I’m going to use a specific field of psychological study to make my point. I’m invoking that ever-feared C-word. Forget everything you know about cults and let’s work strictly with a clinical definition. Try to dissociate the headlines about cults in the past 60 years and let’s work from the same definition.
Steven Hassan’s BITE model of Cult Mind Control came up in the interview with ex-Jehovah’s Witness Lydia Finch a few episodes ago, but I want to explore how the BITE model manifests in detail from Hassan’s website, freedomofmind.com. The word ‘cult’ is a powerful word, but it needn’t carry the weight of negative connotation typically ascribed, and I’ll let Steven Hassan tell you why.
“Many people think of mind control as an ambiguous, mystical process that cannot be defined in concrete terms. In reality, mind control refers to a specific set of methods and techniques, such as hypnosis or thought- stopping, that influence how a person thinks, feels, and acts. Like many bodies of knowledge, it is not inherently good or evil. If mind control techniques are used to empower an individual to have more choice, and authority for his life remains within himself, the effects can be beneficial. For example, benevolent mind control can be used to help people quit smoking without affecting any other behavior. Mind control becomes destructive when the locus of control is external and it is used to undermine a person’s ability to think and act independently.
As employed by the most destructive cults, mind control seeks nothing less than to disrupt an individual’s authentic identity and reconstruct it in the image of the cult leader. I developed the BITE model to help people determine whether or not a group is practicing destructive mind control. The BITE model helps people understand how cults suppress individual member's uniqueness and creativity. BITE stands for the cult's control of an individual's Behavior, Intellect [information], Thoughts, and Emotions.
It is important to understand that destructive mind control can be determined when the overall effect of these four components promotes dependency and obedience to some leader or cause. It is not necessary for every single item on the list to be present. Mindcontrolled cult members can live in their own apartments, have nine-to-five jobs, be married with children, and still be unable to think for themselves and act independently.
We are all subject to influence from our parents, friends, teachers, co-workers... When this influence helps someone grow and maintain an internal locus of control, it is healthy. Influence which is used to keep people mindless and dependent is unhealthy.”
Quick breakdown of what these controlling mechanisms look like:
1. Regulate individual’s physical reality
2. Dictate where, how, and with whom the member lives and associates or isolates
3. When, how and with whom the member has sex
4. Control types of clothing and hairstyles
5. Regulate diet - food and drink, hunger and/or fasting
6. Manipulation and deprivation of sleep
7. Financial exploitation, manipulation or dependence
8. Restrict leisure, entertainment, vacation time
9. Major time spent with group indoctrination and rituals and/or self indoctrination including the Internet
10. Permission required for major decisions
11. Thoughts, feelings, and activities (of self and others) reported to superiors
12. Rewards and punishments used to modify behaviors, both positive and negative
13. Discourage individualism, encourage group-think
14. Impose rigid rules and regulations
15. Instill dependency and obedience
16. Threaten harm to family and friends
17. Force individual to rape or be raped
18. Instill dependency and obedience
19. Encourage and engage in corporal punishment
a. Deliberately withhold information
b. Distort information to make it more acceptable
c. Systematically lie to the cult member
2. Minimize or discourage access to non-cult sources of information, including:
a. Internet, TV, radio, books, articles, newspapers, magazines, other media
c. Former members
d. Keep members busy so they don’t have time to think and investigate
e. Control through cell phone with texting, calls, internet tracking
3. Compartmentalize information into Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
a. Ensure that information is not freely accessible
b.Control information at different levels and missions within group
c. Allow only leadership to decide who needs to know what and when
4. Encourage spying on other members
a. Impose a buddy system to monitor and control member
b.Report deviant thoughts, feelings and actions to leadership
c. Ensure that individual behavior is monitored by group
5. Extensive use of cult-generated information and propaganda, including:
a. Newsletters, magazines, journals, audiotapes, videotapes, YouTube, movies and other media
b. Misquoting statements or using them out of context from non-cult sources
6. Unethical use of confession
a. Information about sins used to disrupt and/or dissolve identity boundaries
b. Withholding forgiveness or absolution
c. Manipulation of memory, possible false memories
1. Require members to internalize the group’s doctrine as truth
a. Adopting the group's ‘map of reality’ as reality
b. Instill black and white thinking
c. Decide between good vs. evil
d. Organize people into us vs. them (insiders vs. outsiders)
2.Change person’s name and identity
3. Use of loaded language and clichés which constrict knowledge, stop critical thoughts and reduce complexities into platitudinous buzz words
4. Encourage only ‘good and proper’ thoughts
5. Hypnotic techniques are used to alter mental states, undermine critical thinking and even to age regress the member
6. Memories are manipulated and false memories are created
7. Teaching thought-stopping techniques which shut down reality testing by stopping negative thoughts and allowing only positive thoughts, including:
a. Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking
e. Speaking in tongues
f. Singing or humming
8. Rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism
9. Forbid critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy allowed
10. Labeling alternative belief systems as illegitimate, evil, or not useful
1. Manipulate and narrow the range of feelings – some emotions and/or
needs are deemed as evil, wrong or selfish
2. Teach emotion-stopping techniques to block feelings of homesickness, anger, doubt
3. Make the person feel that problems are always their own fault, never the leader’s or the group’s fault
4. Promote feelings of guilt or unworthiness, such as
a. Identity guilt
b. You are not living up to your potential
c. Your family is deficient
d. Your past is suspect
e. Your affiliations are unwise
f. Your thoughts, feelings, actions are irrelevant or selfish
g. Social guilt
h. Historical guilt
5. Instill fear, such as fear of:
a. Thinking independently
b. The outside world
d. Losing one’s salvation
e. Leaving or being shunned by the group
f. Other’s disapproval
6. Extremes of emotional highs and lows – love bombing and praise one moment and then declaring you are horrible sinner
7. Ritualistic and sometimes public confession of sins
8. Phobia indoctrination: inculcating irrational fears about leaving the group or questioning the leader’s authority
a. No happiness or fulfillment possible outside of the group
b. Terrible consequences if you leave: hell, demon possession, incurable diseases, accidents, suicide, insanity, 10,000 reincarnations, etc.
c. Shunning of those who leave; fear of being rejected by friends, peers, and family
d. Never a legitimate reason to leave; those who leave are weak, undisciplined, unspiritual, worldly, brainwashed by family or counselor, or seduced by money, sex, or rock and roll
e. Threats of harm to ex-member and family”
This BITE model has become the standard to determine if any given movement is a cult. Notice at no point in all that does it say anything about belief in God, that’s because cults manifest themselves in many social movements. It also states unequivocally that having a cult mindset can be beneficial in some respects. If whatever culture you’re a part of encourages healthy habits and promotes individuality, then it’s a good cult. However, that word carries so much negative connotation as it’s usually ascribed to wacky religious groups which frequently terminate in mass-suicides, yet cults exist all around us as smaller groups within much larger social groups or movements. It would do us all a great service to drop the social stigma of the word ‘cult’ and appropriate the term to come into line with a more clinical and scientific definition.
The first step to dealing with a problem is identifying it. There isn’t a single victim in all of this, everybody has been victimized by the culture of this specific cult. We can’t move forward from this or talk about any rational solutions until we collectively stop victimizing everybody and get everybody the help they need and deserve. We owe it to each other to identify and understand what’s happened and help each other see the Church for what it is. Then we can identify the good and the bad which comes from this cult.
If there’s one takeaway from this interaction with Jane Doe and Joseph Bishop it should be a conclusion that somebody could have stepped in to help them both in multiple places during their respective timelines. Somebody could have helped Jane by giving her the tools and therapy necessary to deal with what Joseph Bishop and her stepfather did to her. Somebody could have stepped in to help Joseph Bishop get the tools and therapy he needed to express his sexuality in ways that are healthy instead of simply labeling it sex addiction and looking the other way when he creates victims by expressing his sexuality in unhealthy ways.
Sex is such a weird thing in the Church. It dances the fine line of secret and sacred. We’re not supposed to talk about or even entertain sexual feelings or desires until we’re married when everything becomes fair game. That’s not healthy. People have sexual feelings and desires starting in childhood yet we tell them that these emotions are unacceptable to explore or express in any way until after our missions and marriages. The only place we can discuss sexuality is with our bishop one-on-one behind closed doors and the only reason we discuss it there is to confess our sexual sins, thus perpetuating the cycle of self-loathing and shame for simply having sexual desires.
But what are the obstacles to fixing the problem here? Members of the Church are inherently opposed to any bottom up fixes. They know the Church is led by God’s representatives on earth. This mentality means that top-down changes are the only changes to be accepted, discouraging any grassroots movements from having any serious impact.
This mentality isn’t something that is recent in the Church, criticism is always hard to take from outside sources.
Dallin Oaks said in the February 1987 Ensign article titled “Criticism”
“Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed is in a class by itself. It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true.”
Any time an issue arises in the Church which may signal that a systematic problem exists, the problem is waved away with phrases all-too common in Mormon circles. The Church is led by God but made up of fallible men. The gospel is perfect, the people are flawed.
It’s a challenge to reconcile the mentality behind those statements with evidence that there may be a problem which needs to be fixed within the Church. Members don’t see the Church as an institution which shares any similarities with any other institution. They’re quick to cast aspersions at other religions or corporations which suffer from sex abuse scandals while at the same time lacking the introspection to wonder if those same issues may be present within the Church itself. The Church isn’t like any other organization on the planet because it’s the one true religion. How can the one true religion following the perfect gospel of Jesus Christ have any problems?
We can’t move forward in a conversation about this subject until we understand the conflicting interests and empathize with everybody who is somehow affected by the Church, especially when challenging stories like Jane Doe and Joseph Bishop inevitably surface.
While we’re trying to have these conversations across the belief spectrum, it’s important to take steps toward fixing the problem in any way we can. Think back on every time we heard ecclesiastical leaders or Church leaders to whom these women and Bishop reported the sexual abuse or ‘sex addiction’. Each of those times it was a bishop or stake president who took the accusations. Every time Joseph Bishop himself confessed what he called his sexual addiction, it was always to a Church authority, his bishop or stake president, and explicitly we know he confessed to multiple members of the Quorum of the Seventy.
Each of these instances represents the structure the Church has in place to police these matters internally. When the matters are referred to the proper secular authorities, this policing is good; you need checks and balances in a system to catch bad actors. However, as we see from this example and multiple others which have made Mormon headlines in the last few years, more often than not it seems the Church reviews the available accusations, commits the person to a regiment of repentance, and the matter is forgiven and forgotten. Legally speaking, any time this is the case it may equate to covering up for sexual abuse within Church leadership.
The only way Joseph Bishop was able to get these women into scenarios where he could allegedly assault them was because he had spoken with them concerning sexual matters prior to the assaults. The Church has created a culture where an older man asking young men and women sexually explicit questioning behind closed doors is a completely normal experience. Bishop groomed these women and the Church had unwittingly groomed them from a young age during every bishop’s interview where that question is asked, “Do you keep the law of chastity?”. These women Bishop allegedly assaulted were indoctrinated in a culture where people shouldn’t be on their guard when an older man with the priesthood takes them into a room one-on-one and asks sexual questions. Without this aspect of culture, they may have had their guard up and not gone into the basement room with him alone, they may have taken steps to stop this before it got too far.
Beyond that, if the culture hadn’t existed where ecclesiastical punishment effectively substitutes for legal punishment, Bishop may have been referred to authorities in the late 70s when it seems his sexual indiscretions allegedly began.
Given all of this information, there has never been a more crucial time to march in support of systematic reforms within the Church. Everything we’ve discussed today is exactly what the Protect LDS Children campaign is fighting. The march is at the end of this week, March 30, 2018, beginning in Washington Square park at noon, that’s 451 South State St. in Salt Lake City. Sam Young has devoted so many hours to putting this march together and you can read the stories of people who’ve been affected by these sexually invasive bishop’s interviews and sign the petition at protectldschildren.org. This march isn’t to change Church doctrine or history, it’s a matter of changing its policies to comport with every other major world-wide institution of the 21st century. If changing how these bishop’s interviews from how they’re currently conducted stops even one more story like Jane Doe and Joseph Bishop from arising ever again, it would be simply absurd and almost criminal to oppose the movement. I hope to see you there.
One interesting aspect to arise in the wake of these allegations comes from the Church’s statement on 21 March.
“The Church, as a religious organization, does not have the
investigative tools available to law enforcement agencies. Nor can the
Church substitute for the courts in adjudicating legal claims. The
Church has great faith in the judicial system to determine the truth of
these claims. Nevertheless, the Church takes seriously its
responsibility to hold its members accountable for their conduct with
respect of the laws of God and man. To that end, the Church is
continuing its investigation of this individual's claims and will act
consistent with its long-standing policy of no tolerance for abuse.”
This alone seems to put the Church in an awkward position where it’s been handling the matters internally, yet simultaneously admits that they don’t have the resources to follow up on these leads. This may be the closest thing we get to a cry for help from the Church with policing sex abuse within its ranks. While not a legally binding statement by any stretch of imagination, maybe we should consider reading between the lines and help with an outside watchdog committee to help curtail the constant threat of abuse.
I’m merely trying to examine this in every way that makes sense. One major takeaway from everything today is the fact that sexuality is such and interesting aspect of the human experience. I don’t think it’s right to give the Church or Joseph Bishop an out when it comes to what occurred from the available evidence surrounding these rape allegations. People are justifiably outraged with how everything looks right now and we’ll see how the story develops in the coming weeks.
In order to help me examine this from a legal perspective, I’ve invited someone I consider to be an intellectual heavy-hitter when it comes to examining the law from a nuanced and skeptical perspective. He’s a graduate of the Harvard law program and has worked in business law for
Leak reduce Jane Doe’s leverage?
Final: Hypothetically, could Bishop claim religious exemption on polygamy in a deep red state?
Shouldn’t we be exploring any possible solutions, even novel ones? It doesn’t seem from the available evidence that the interaction between Bishop and Jane Doe was consensual. What seems to have happened is unequivocally wrong. From the evidence in front of us, it looks like Joseph Bishop was in a position of power and used that position to force himself upon Jane Doe. That is straight up condemnable and truly immoral.
Based on the conversation with Andrew just now, what seems most likely is that this story will continue to get bigger until Jane files her lawsuit where it will be litigated and settled out of court for $X dollars. Jane will get the money and sign an NDA with the Church, and the Church might change one of its policies to legally protect themselves from this happening in the future. Jane will join the ranks of unknown numbers of survivors who’ve been silenced. But all the public gets out of this is the Church slightly changing one or two of its policies, hardly what one might consider a win at the end of the day.
Is there a more novel solution out there where major changes can be affected and we’re all better off at the end of the day? If a solution like that may exist, isn’t it worth exploring, even as merely a thought experiment?
Under different hypothetical circumstances where all parties are informed consenting adults, should a man and a woman be barred from sharing consenting intimate relations? That’s a separate issue. But if we don’t take anything from this story and Jane Doe is bought off and silenced at the end of the day, have we actually fixed any institutional problems?
Our culture treats sex in a weird way. One man and one woman for sex and marriage has been the status quo for centuries, but at a different time in Utah, before it was a state, the status quo was different. Polygamy was practiced underground because it runs contrary to federal marriage laws, but could a system be crafted which allows multiple consenting adults without respect to age, race, gender, or gender identity, to marry and grant them all necessary legal protections? A major issue with polygamy is that it’s illegal and those engaged in the practice don’t get any legal recourse. It’s also religiously based which creates an inherent misogynistic power dynamic which is inversely related to true informed consent. I’m not talking about legalizing polygyny, where one man gets to marry multiple women, but maybe we should consider revising the antiquated laws of one man one woman and explore the possibility of opening up marriage laws to include any number of informed consenting adults.
And look, I understand this is disturbingly complex and this may not be the right avenue or time to discuss such things, but if we can move the world in a better direction as a result of what has transpired, isn’t that worth exploring at the very least? The hurtles are very real. What does an informed consenting polygamous relationship look like? How are resources divided up when a polygamous marriage inevitably sours and divorce is the only option? How does child support work when we have multiple men and women all in a polygamous marriage and one person decides for whatever reason to cut ties?
This would be a major shift in what we understand marriage to be today. We’d have to have a plethora of sex and relationship therapists to study, document, and provide advice for people on what an informed polygamous marriage looks like. There couldn’t be restrictions regarding gender or gender identity, it would need to be completely sex and gender neutral. The long-term impact might manifest in many men and women be married together, affording legal protections to all those involved. The issues of cheating and covert adultery may solve themselves. Also, children who today are born out of wedlock, may gain legal protections and recourse.
I know this is a pipe dream, but if it’s a solution with better outcomes for the people involved, isn’t it worth thought experimenting with in a purely hypothetical realm?
It’s a challenge to consider what LDS opposition may look like to such a hypothetical proposition. One need only to look to the Doctrine and Covenants to know that the original monogamy revelation, D&C 101 in the 1835 version, was removed, whereas the polygamy revelation D&C 132 still stands as divine doctrine. Joseph Smith was sealed to multiple men and women in Nauvoo through plural marriage and the law of adoption. As a country we’re still wallowing in strict monogamy instated since the Protestant foundations of the colonies. Joseph Smith hid his polygamy because it was illegal. He was a victim of a sex-shaming culture which disapproved of universal marriage much like our society today. Sex scandals shouldn’t be a problem in our culture, but people express their sexuality in unhealthy ways when it’s contrary to the approved societal norm. We’re all victims of unhealthy views on sex, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
I propose the Church merely act in accordance with their own foundational scripture. In Alma 24, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies took action to stop the great conflict of their time.
“17 And now it came to pass that when the king had made an end of these sayings, and all the people were assembled together, they took their swords, and all the weapons which were used for the shedding of man’s blood, and they did bury them up deep in the earth.
18 And this they did, it being in their view a testimony to God, and also to men, that they never would use weapons again for the shedding of man’s blood; and this they did, vouching and covenanting with God, that rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own lives; and rather than take away from a brother they would give unto him; and rather than spend their days in idleness they would labor abundantly with their hands.
19 And thus we see that, when these Lamanites were brought to believe and to know the truth, they were firm, and would suffer even unto death rather than commit sin; and thus we see that they buried their weapons of peace, or they buried the weapons of war, for peace.”
Why not explore the possibility of an indefinite armistice when it comes to the battle of love and marriage? Let’s end this seemingly never-ending battle about approved or unapproved love and sexuality. Our weapons today are online forums and legal firms, let’s get them out of the fight about sex and marriage. Let us collectively lay down our weapons for peace and move on from this trifling issue which has little impact on who we are as human beings. It should be up to individuals to practice healthy sex and live fulfilling lives.
That’s the only way that I can see any end to the legal game we play back and forth with the Church and its members. This isn’t a simple solution. Full legal polygamy regardless of sex and gender identity isn’t a solution which will immediately fix everything, there will be obstacles for decades to come. This is a plan to end the back and forth long after this current generation has died. This is a possibility which would require centuries of applying the scientific method to understanding optimal polygamous marriages and consensual practices. We shouldn’t legalize polygamy because it’s easy, but because it is hard. We should never judge a person’s worth based on their sexuality.
But we have to stop with thought-killing rhetoric and controlling mechanisms. We have to stop with stuff like this from Richard G. Scott in his 1992 General Conference address.
- Richard G. Scott victim blaming
Victim blaming has to stop RIGHT NOW. Until we recognize that we’re all victims of the system in one way or another, progress will be too slow to chart.
And if I may leave you with one final quote from D&C 121 which I think illustrates the greatest obstacle against society progressing our views around sexuality. This was given by Joseph Smith when he was interred in Liberty Jail awaiting trial for arson, robbery, and treason tied to the 1838 Mormon War in Missouri.
Final quote to end show:
“We have learned, by sad experience, that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”
Come to the march.
I want to give props to the media outlets and various people who’ve been covering this story. Peggy Fletcher Stack of the SL Tribune has been an unstoppable force throughout the development of this story and her treatment has been evidence-based and fair. I’ve used a number of her articles in compiling the research for this episode. Another notable reporter, Tad Walch of the Deseret News deserves some props. Look, this story is rough for believing members of the Church to cover and the reasons for that should be abundantly apparent by this point. Tad Walch hasn’t shied away from some of the challenging aspects of this story and he’s been relatively fair with such a controversial issue. Jonathan Streeter, you may know him as thinker of thoughts, he runs the Thoughts on Things and Stuff youtube and social media. Jonathan has been covering this story almost daily since it broke and his videos have been extremely helpful in putting words to some powerful emotions surrounding this complicated issue. A huge shoutout to the various bloggers on Feminist Mormon Housewives for offering their much-needed perspective on the issue. Thanks to John Dehlin and Lindsay Hansen Park for covering these stories and chiming in with their two cents. They’ve provided a plethora of useful information with everything happening. You can check the show notes for the list of sources used to compile this. Thanks to all the thousands of redditors posting and upvoting for visibility and huge thanks to the Mormon Leaks team for deciding to post the audio in the first place even though it’s an issue with so many moving parts and conflicting interests. I think this leak exhibits Mormon Leaks’ commitment to transparency, regardless of the ancillary ramifications.
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