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Update on McKenna Denson Lawsuit

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Update on McKenna Denson Lawsuit

I have a question for you or anyone who is willing to answer. ( Before you answer however, this guy's behaviour will not taint the Church from my perspective, we can find bad behaviours everywhere).

The Question: is Did the guy do all this as McKenna Denson claims?

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8 minutes ago, Atheist Mormon said:

I have a question for you or anyone who is willing to answer. ( Before you answer however, this guy's behaviour will not taint the Church from my perspective, we can find bad behaviours everywhere).

The Question: is Did the guy do all this as McKenna Denson claims?

Are you asking if anybody hereabouts ought to be on the witness lists?

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, Atheist Mormon said:

I have a question for you or anyone who is willing to answer. ( Before you answer however, this guy's behaviour will not taint the Church from my perspective, we can find bad behaviours everywhere).

The Question: is Did the guy do all this as McKenna Denson claims?

We don't know.  On balance, my assessment of the evidence is that yes, he probably did abuse her, but that abuse was not rape or attempted rape.  According to Denson's bishop from back in the 80s, she reported that Bishop showed her and another sister missionary pornography.

We've talked about this at great length on this board.  Several threads available.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97

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26 minutes ago, smac97 said:

We don't know.  On balance, my assessment of the evidence is that yes, he probably did abuse her, but that abuse was not rape or attempted rape.  According to Denson's bishop from back in the 80s, she reported that Bishop showed her and another sister missionary pornography.

We've talked about this at great length on this board.  Several threads available.

Thanks,

-Smac

Operative word: "She reported."

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I admit I haven't been paying much attention to this. But I have some questions:

Let's say the Church somehow knew about this man's alleged actions, how can she claim anything they said is fraud against her? She states that he sexually assaulted her. How would anything the Church had said or known affect whether he did or not? Even if the Church completely lied about what they knew, why would anything they said induce her to believe he was a respectable man when she knew he assaulted her?

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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

We don't know.  On balance, my assessment of the evidence is that yes, he probably did abuse her, but that abuse was not rape or attempted rape.  According to Denson's bishop from back in the 80s, she reported that Bishop showed her and another sister missionary pornography.

We've talked about this at great length on this board.  Several threads available.

Thanks,

-Smac

Thanks, I'm not a minute follower of threads but your answer is rational. 

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2 hours ago, USU78 said:

Are you asking if anybody hereabouts ought to be on the witness lists?

No, Read it again!!! I asked his personal opinion.

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When is a ruling expected?

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1 minute ago, Atheist Mormon said:

No, Read it again!!! I asked his personal opinion.

Not a particularly fair question. No matter how much one is up to speed on media reports, one cannot with authority speak to such an issue. At best one can opine on a party's case's merits and strength.

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5 minutes ago, USU78 said:

Not a particularly fair question. No matter how much one is up to speed on media reports, one cannot with authority speak to such an issue. At best one can opine on a party's case's merits and strength.

I disagree...I think I think the guy abused her as far as he could go, but the times weren't the same as today. Anyway It's like discussing MMM...did it happen?

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Posted (edited)
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“However, because of Defendants’ ongoing concealment of the truth, McKenna only recently discovered what Defendants had been hiding — that prior to ever being called as MTC President in 1983, Defendant Bishop had engaged in sexual improprieties and acts of sexual predation — and Defendant COP (Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) knew about it,” Denson’s attorney, Craig Vernon, wrote.

Unless they have other documentation not shared, this claim imo is false.

From my memory...

There is no indication there was any sexual predatory behaviour by him prior to him being called as MTC president save perhaps one incident when he was a young missionary where he gave no details about what he did, but specifically said he did not tell his MP.  He also said iirc that nothing happened, sounds like he stopped before it got serious.  There was nothing in what he said that required it to be predatory or anything more than a young missionary breaking a church imposed, nonlegal rule such as being alone with a woman.

He relates that he confessed to his bishop many years later and it is possible this one incident was reported at this time.  

The other two incidents that occurred with other men around and the woman was the initiator that might have been included in that preMTC confession,  he reported himself as solely watching.  In one case a woman took her top off in a likely public hot tub/hot springs (a number of other men present) and in the other apparently a church member was flirting in her swimsuit with him and another friend.  He gives no report of any actions of his own.

Even assuming he had lustful thoughts in these two cases, there is no evidence he acted on them, so even if he confessed them prior to the MTC, the Church leadership had no opportunity to learn he would become a sexual predator through anything but prophecy...which might bug members who believe Church leaders should show that level of discernment, but has no legal standing.

----

My opinion is he sexually coerced and abused two women at the MTC, Denson and the second victim. With his vigourous denial at all times of rape even while agreeing he molested the two of them, proving rape is impossible imo.  I see no evidence that anyone had any indication this might happen.

Edited by Calm
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So there's this bit from Denson's response to the Motions to Dismiss:

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Defendants concealed the fact that Defendant Bishop was a sexual predator and had a long history of sexual improprieties prior to his tenure as MTC President. Defendants represented to Plaintiff just the opposite: that the MTC President was safe, trustworthy and not a sexual predator. This fraud was only discovered by Plaintiff in 2017 as part of a recorded conversation with Defendant Bishop.

I'm struggling to see how Mr. Vernon will be able to maintain this argument in front of a federal judge.  She is claiming that Joseph Bishop raped her in 1984, but that she didn't figure that out the Church's purported "fraud" (failure to disclose Bishop's misconduct, I guess) until 2017? 

I'm still not fully grasping the theory of her fraud claim.  Vague, nebulous assertions are fatal to fraud claims.  Specificity is the order of the day, and she's not specific at all.

Her attorneys actually step in it a little here:

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Defendants advertise and teach its members that its leaders, especially high-level leaders like MTC Presidents, are “safe, honorable, and trustworthy.” Here, Defendant Bishop was even called by an Apostle of Defendant COP to be the MTC President. This serves to certify to its members that this man is not a sexual predator because mission callings, including that of mission presidents, are made “by revelation through the Lord’s servants, the prophets.”

The courts really don't like to get involved in internecine religious disputes, such that those that may implicate claims of "revelvation through the Lord's servants, the prophets."  Does Mr. Vernon really think a federal judge is going to want to try to adjudicate fraud claims predicated on whether Joseph Bishop was, in fact, called "by revelation?"  Frankly, the above statement is boneheaded.  I wonder if Mr. Vernon let his animus against the Church supersede dispassionate reasoning and writing.

Here's another weird bit:

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Then, several years after she was raped, McKenna reported Defendant Bishop’s sexual assault to local leaders of Defendant COP and to one of its General Authorities, Carlos Asay. Despite McKenna’s best efforts to seek answers, Defendants revealed nothing that would have led her to believe that Defendant Bishop had these prior red flag sexual improprieties, of which Defendant COP had knowledge.  This is verified by the fact that Defendant COP took no action to investigate or discipline Bishop.  In doing so, each Defendant continued the pattern of concealing the truth.

McKenna finally learned of Defendant Bishop’s prior conduct, and that Defendant COP knew of this prior conduct, in December of 2017, when she confronted and recorded the very man who raped her.

Two significant flaws here.  First, Denson's legal theory is that she was raped by Bishop.  As soon as that happened (purportedly), she was on notice that . . . he had raped her.  So she'll have a hard time arguing that she was justified in waiting 30+ years to file legal claims pertaining to an incident in 1984 when she was fully aware of that incident.

Second, the pervasive emotion-laden rhetoric here ("she confronted and recorded the very man who raped her") and throughout her pleadings is not doing her any favors.  Mr. Vernon is not writing to persuade a judge here.  He is writing (pandering) to the general public.  He's trying to make this legal case and lurid and sensationalized as possible.  But in my experience, judges don't like histrionics in legal pleadings, particularly those written by an experienced attorney, particularly in federal court, and particularly where, as here, the case has a significant public profile.  

Mr. Vernon's arguments pertaining to Denson's "fraudulent nondisclosure" claim are quite poor.  The whole point of such a claim is that a Person A has been injured by Person B's failure to disclose important information.  Denson's legal theory is that the Church knew Bishop was a sexual predator, but called him to be the president of the MTC anyway (a very farfetched claim, but one which the Court has to accept as true for the purposes of a motion to dismiss).  The problem is that Denson's narrative is that she found out he was a sexual predator in 1984.  So what, at that point, was "fraudulently" concealed from her?  Nothing.  By her own reckconing, she knew in 1984 what he had (purportedly) done, and she also knew in 1984 that the Church had (purportedly) failed to disclose Bishop's past behavior.  Bishop did nothing to her after 1984, so the Church's (purported) failure to disclose Bishop's misconduct after 1984 did not cause her any injury, meaning that ongoing nondisclosure cannot form the basis for an ongoing tolling (continuation) of the statute of limitations.

This bit gets interesting:

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In Doe v. Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 837 F.Supp.2d 1145 (D. Idaho 2011), certifying questions by Doe v. Boy Scouts of America, 159 Idaho 103 (2015), a factually similar case with a similar tolling statute, the Federal District Court of Idaho found that a former boy scout, who was molested by his Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints priesthood leader and scout leader in the late 1960’s, timely filed his fraud claim. In Doe, the Plaintiff did not discover the Defendants’ fraud until sometime in 2007 or 2008 when Plaintiff learned from files in the Boy Scout national office that there were problems with that Scoutmaster molesting young boys as early as the mid-1960’s. This created at least a factual issue for the federal court of when there was knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud. Doe v. Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 837 F.Supp.2d 1145, 1153 (D. Idaho 2011), aff’d, Doe v. Boy Scouts of America, 159 Idaho 103, 111 (2015).

So I think his reasoning goes like this:

  • The LDS Church knew about X (Bishop's past misconduct) prior to 1984.
  • Denson claims that the Church had a duty to disclose X to her.
  • Denson claims that the nondisclosure of X caused her injury.
  • Denson claims that she didn't find out about the Church's nondisclosure of X until 2017.
  • Denson will likely claim that had the Church disclosed X to her, she would not have agreed to meet with him privately, and hence would not have been (purportedly) assaulted by him.

Denson's legal theory is fairly tenuous, but I guess it might work on paper. 

But there is still have the "particularity" flaws, and the potential noncompliance with the "Twombly/Iqbal" pleading standard.  And that's just at the pleading stage.  If this case manages to survive the motion to dismiss, then Mr. Vernon will have huge evidentiary issues to deal with.  There is no forensic evidence, likely no eyewitness evidence, or audio/video recordings. 

And most significantly, Denson's response to the Motion to Dismiss exposes just how desperately Mr. Vernon's legal theory requires evidence pertaining to Bishop's purported disclosures to Elder Wells.  Evidence that, if it exists, is around 40 years old.  Evidence, that, if it exists, likely only exists in the mind of Elder Wells.  Evidence that, if it exists, is very likely protected by the priest/penitent privilege.  Evidence that may not exist at all (Denson is apparently relying solely on a few vague statements Bishop made during her "interview" of him, which may end up not being inculpatory at all).

Thanks,

-Smac

 

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38 minutes ago, Avatar4321 said:

Let's say the Church somehow knew about this man's alleged actions,

Okay.  It seems extraordinarily unlikely that the LDS Church would call a confessed sexual predator to a position as prominent and important as MTC president, but let's go with it for the sake of argument.

38 minutes ago, Avatar4321 said:

how can she claim anything they said is fraud against her?

Her theory, I think, is that the Church presented Bishop as an upstanding, trustworthy person, when it knew he was not.  She thereafter relied on the Church's "fraudulent" representations about Bishop when she agreed to meet with him privately, and that he then assaulted her.

38 minutes ago, Avatar4321 said:

She states that he sexually assaulted her. How would anything the Church had said or known affect whether he did or not?

Her theory is that the Church knew he was a sexual predator, but nevertheless put him in a position of trust and authority over vulnerable young women, such as herself.

I don't think "fraud" fits very well.  Fraud theories are generally predicated on specific misrepresentations of fact, or else a nondisclosure of a material fact when there is a duty to disclose.

So was Bishop a "sexual predator?"  And did the Church know this?  And did the Church nevertheless call him to be the president of the MTC?  And did the Church thereafter conceal his predation for decades?

I think the likelihood of establishing any of these three items is very remote, let alone all four?

38 minutes ago, Avatar4321 said:

Even if the Church completely lied about what they knew, why would anything they said induce her to believe he was a respectable man when she knew he assaulted her?

I think her theory is that the Church lulled her into a false sense of security, that it represented to her that Bishop was trustworthy (when it knew, in fact, that he was not).

Again, this seems quite unlikely, to put it mildly.  And as for actually proving it . . . fuhgeddaboudit.

Thanks,

-Smac

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41 minutes ago, Duncan said:

When is a ruling expected?

Well, the Church has a few weeks to file its Reply, then the Court will very likely schedule a hearing.  That could be anywhere from 1-5 months from now, but I suspect it will likely be around the end of the summer (early August, perhaps).  Once the hearing is completed, the Court could either immediately issue a verdict at the hearing (unlikely), but will probaby spend 2-6 weeks drafting a decision.  So that would put us into late September or October for an actual ruling.

This is all a guess, though.  There are a lot of variables that can either speed up or slow down the Court's adjudication.  However, I suspect this one will likely be handled on a more expedited basis.

Thanks,

-Smac

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Posted (edited)
35 minutes ago, Calm said:

Unless they have other documentation not shared, this claim imo is false.

From my memory...

There is no indication there was any sexual predatory behaviour by him prior to him being called as MTC president save perhaps one incident when he was a young missionary where he gave no details about what he did, but specifically said he did not tell his MP.  He also said iirc that nothing happened, sounds like he stopped before it got serious.  There was nothing in what he said that required it to be predatory or anything more than a young missionary breaking a church imposed, nonlegal rule such as being alone with a woman.

He relates that he confessed to his bishop many years later and it is possible this one incident was reported at this time.  

The other two incidents that occurred with other men around and the woman was the initiator that might have been included in that preMTC confession,  he reported himself as solely watching.  In one case a woman took her top off in a likely public hot tub/hot springs (a number of other men present) and in the other apparently a church member was flirting in her swimsuit with him and another friend.  He gives no report of any actions of his own.

Even assuming he had lustful thoughts in these two cases, there is no evidence he acted on them, so even if he confessed them prior to the MTC, the Church leadership had no opportunity to learn he would become a sexual predator through anything but prophecy...which might bug members who believe Church leaders should show that level of discernment, but has no legal standing.

----

My opinion is he sexually coerced and abused two women at the MTC, Denson and the second victim. With his vigourous denial at all times of rape even while agreeing he molested the two of them, proving rape is impossible imo.  I see no evidence that anyone had any indication this might happen.

I think that Mr. Vernon's lurid writing style, in a brief filed in federal court, is an indicator of desperation and weakness.  This conclusion is buttressed by the fact that Mr. Vernon was never planning to litigate this matter in Court, but he had no choice after his own client and MormonLeaks - as Vernon put it during their press conference - "forced [his] hand."  I think Vernon knows he's going to lose, so he's cutting loose and getting all theatrical and melodramatic.  He's playing to the general public and the media, not to the judge.

When I read Vernon's briefs, phrases like "lemonade out of lemons" and "silk purse out of a sow's ear" come to mind.

Something to keep in mind is that a "motion to dismiss" creates a very unusual procedural posture for everyone.  Basically, Denson gets to claim pretty much anything that she wants in her Complaint (she can't overtly lie, but she can speculate about stuff all the day long), and both the defendant and the court have to go along with Denson's version of events (because a motion to dismiss is only allowed when there are no set of facts at all that could create a viable legal claim).  But that's just in a "motion to dismiss" setting.  If Denson's Complaint manages to survive the motion to dismiss, then the pressure will be on her and her attorneys to prove up their claims.  And I really don't think they'll be able to.  Not even close.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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8 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Well, the Church has a few weeks to file its Reply, then the Court will very likely schedule a hearing.  That could be anywhere from 1-5 months from now, but I suspect it will likely be around the end of the summer (early August, perhaps).  Once the hearing is completed, the Court could either immediately issue a verdict at the hearing (unlikely), but will probaby spend 2-6 weeks drafting a decision.  So that would put us into late September or October for an actual ruling.

This is all a guess, though.  There are a lot of variables that can either speed up or slow down the Court's adjudication.  However, I suspect this one will likely be handled on a more expedited basis.

Thanks,

-Smac

So, this decision is basically to see if there is enough evidence to proceed further or not? as in the charges are warranted?

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Nope.  Evidence is not being evaluated at all, actually.  Instead, the court is looking at the factual statements in Denson's Complaint, and is assuming they are true, and is being asked to nevertheless dismiss the case (based on legal arguments, and not only any factual arguments).  Specifically, the Church is saying, in essence "Even if we assume that every claim Ms. Denson makes in her Complaint is true, she is still not entitled to proceed in this lawsuit because her claims are barred by the statute of limitations."

Thanks,

-Smac

What happens if the court decides to proceed with the case? and moves past the Church's objection? What would the Church's next move be? What you are saying here is the case seems to be done and done if they could agree with her but would throw it out based on the Statute of Limitations. As you can I'm no lawyer and I don't recall this type of case being discussed on TV's Night Court or Law and Order😬

Edited by Duncan

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19 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Specifically, the Church is saying, in essence "Even if we assume that every claim Ms. Denson makes in her Complaint is true, she is still not entitled to proceed in this lawsuit because her claims are barred by the statute of limitations."

For the general public, this sounds like one of those " got off on a technicality " types of cases.  Judges and lawyers will understand but in the court of public opinion there will linger a fishy smell.

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4 minutes ago, Duncan said:

What happens if the court decides to proceed with the case? and moves past the Church's objection? What would the Church's next move be? What you are saying here is the case seems to be done and done if they could agree with her but would throw it out based on the Statute of Limitations. As you can I'm no lawyer and I don't recall this type of case being discussed on TV's Night Court or Law and Order😬

If the case is permitted to proceede, a settlement is likely to occur. That maybe Densons only option. Her clains are strained at best. She only fiked suit after settlement talks ceased because she released the audio to who knows how many and then wikileaks made it public

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1 minute ago, provoman said:

If the case is permitted to proceede, a settlement is likely to occur. That maybe Densons only option. Her clains are strained at best. She only fiked suit after settlement talks ceased because she released the audio to who knows how many and then wikileaks made it public

it would seem her lawyers are setting themselves up for failure, I mean are they that dumb to proceed to take this case and to take it to court? You can't just sue someone hoping to get money, if that were the case then everyone with deep pockets are a potential target for money grabbers, can't the courts do anything to ensure that she wouldn't get any money? if it did proceed past the church's objection. I could make up something and sue and hope to get some money for it

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You can google " dumb law suits that actually succeeded " and see that stupid is a defense .

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27 minutes ago, Duncan said:

What happens if the court decides to proceed with the case? and moves past the Church's objection? What would the Church's next move be? What you are saying here is the case seems to be done and done if they could agree with her but would throw it out based on the Statute of Limitations. As you can I'm no lawyer and I don't recall this type of case being discussed on TV's Night Court or Law and Order😬

A motion to dismiss, such as the one that church is filed, is filed at the very beginning of a lawsuit as an argument to the court that the case should be dismissed without any need to exchange information or conduct depositions or perform any sort of factual inquiry or investigation. Motions to dismiss are very very common, but they only work if there is a clear legal impediment 2 allowing the plaintiff's complaint to move forward. In this case, the statute of limitations issue appears to be very significant. That is what the court is being asked to address. If the court agrees with the church's argument and finds that the statute of limitations bars the plaintiffs claims for moving forward, then the lawsuit is over. She can file an appeal if she likes, but that is a discussion for another day. On the other hand, if the church is motion to dismiss is denied, then the church will need to file a response, an answer, to the plaintiff's complaint. Then the parties start to exchange information during a phase of the lawsuit called discovery. The parties may also choose to try to settle the case at this point. There are a lot of options. If the parties don't settle, then at the end of the discovery., which is several months long, one side or the other or both will file a motion called a motion for summary judgment. This motion, unlike a motion to dismiss, does delve into the facts of the case. A motion for summary judgment normally summarizes what the facts are that have been accumulated during the discovery phase of the lawsuit, and then presents arguments as to why there is no real factual dispute in the case, and that the court can go ahead and enter a judgment without needing to go to trial. The motion for summary judgment is also a very very common thing.

If the motion for summary judgment is denied, then the parties prepare for and go to trial. Frankly, I see the chances of a trial in this case being very low.

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27 minutes ago, strappinglad said:

For the general public, this sounds like one of those " got off on a technicality " types of cases.  Judges and lawyers will understand but in the court of public opinion there will linger a fishy smell.

I understand the sentiment, but the statute of limitations is a very important technicality. The defendant in a case can have a very hard time defending itself against legal claims that are based on events that happened many years ago. Evidence dries up or is mislaid. Witnesses move away for the Memories fade or they die.  For example, let's say that I filed a lawsuit against you claiming that you beat me up on October 2nd, 1991.  Do you even know where you were on that date? More to the point, should someone be able to force you to spend thousands of dollars to defend yourself over claims that are 27 years old?

The statute of limitations is only a technicality until you need it, and then it becomes a vital thing.

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