McKenna Denson walked into a Mormon church to face the man she says raped her. Church officials literally tried to pull her away from the microphone but her story is being heard.
In 1984, McKenna Denson says she was raped by a man named Joseph L. Bishop, who worked for the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.
This year she filed a suit in federal court over the alleged assault but has reportedly faced a stiff wall of opposition from church officials.
So, in early September Denson bravely walked into the church Denson was attending and confronted him in front of the church’s members.
In shocking video from that morning, church officials literally try to physically remove her from the podium. But Denson refused to be silenced and now her story is making national headlines and bringing attention to an alleged history of abuse inside one of America’s largest religious organizations.
With the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh dominating the news, it’s important to remember that sexual assault is a crime happening in all corners of society in what are considered some of our safest spaces.
“I am grateful to be able to stand up and bear my testimony today,” Denson says as she takes the podium in the Arizona church, “Because I have great confidence in and love for the savior.”
The church members are largely non-responsive at first, assuming it’s just another testimony given as part of the church’s Fast and Testimony meeting, where members are encouraged to give their testimonies on the personal meaning of the Gospels.
Then her tone dramatically shifts. “The first presidency and the quorum of the 12 Apostles are covering a sexual predator that lives in your ward,” she says, as attendees began to visibly look up in attention. “His name is Joseph Bishop.”
“He was the MTC president when he raped me in the basement of the MTC.”
At that point, an unnamed male church official rushes to Denson’s side and attempts to move her away from the microphone.
But she refuses to step down.
As she literally physically struggles with the two men trying to pull her away, she courageously continues.
“In order to keep the church safe, we need to hold sexual predators accountable.”
At that point, one of the men forcibly removes her from the podium.
If you doubt that women still struggle to be heard when speaking out about sexual assault, this video is a must see.
Denson’s video is uncomfortable for almost anyone to watch. Now, imagine if you are a survivor of sexual assault. For too many people, women in particular, it’s something they don’t have to imagine. It’s a reality they must cope with every day.
Denson and her attorney have filed a lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints over the alleged assault and the Church says it is fully investigating the accusation.
Whether it’s in a religious institution, place of learning, or in the halls of Congress, brave women are standing up everywhere to fight against sexual predators and for justice. They’ve made it this far on their own and it’s time we as a society have their backs.