Judge in Sex Abuse Case against Former Mormon Leader is Employed by the Church July 24, 2018

Judge in Sex Abuse Case against Former Mormon Leader is Employed by the Church

The judge deciding whether to toss out a sex abuse lawsuit brought against a former Mormon leader is currently a professor at a university owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and some are calling it a conflict of interest.

We covered this case in May, when the LDS Church asked the judge to dismiss rape claims brought against Joseph L. Bishop, who was serving as the president of the Missionary Training Center (MTC) during the alleged abuse in 1984. What we didn’t know at the time was that the judge is an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University (BYU).

The case has received media attention again as U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball ponders the Church’s request to dismiss the entire case, but the renewed focus is on a tangential matter: Kimball’s potential conflict(s) of interest.

The theory surfaced on Reddit:

Federal Judge being asked to dismiss case against rapist Mormon MTC president is currently an adjunct law professor at BYU, and therefore employed by those seeking a dismissal. *Huge* conflict of interest.

While it is pretty typical to get a Mormon judge in Utah, and that wouldn’t necessarily be a conflict, it seems entirely different if the judge is currently employed by the defendant’s church and receiving paychecks from them. BYU’s website certainly suggests that’s the case.

The site lists Kimball’s position as “adjunct faculty” and contains his biography and contact information.

Judge Kimball grew up on a dairy farm in Draper, Utah. He received an undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University in 1964 and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Utah Law School in 1967. He engaged in a general practice as an associate, then partner with Vancott, Bagley, Cornwall & McCarthy in Salt Lake City from 1967-1974. He was an Associate Professor of law at the BYU Law School from the summer of 1974 until the summer of 1976 and then an Adjunct Professor until 1980. In the spring of 1975, Kimball was one of the founding partners of the law firm that became Kimball, Parr, Waddoups, Brown & Gee, now Parr, Brown, Gee & Loveless. He was appointed a United States District Judge by President Clinton in November 1997.

That’s quite a lengthy history with BYU (which is owned by the LDS church).

To be clear, there’s no evidence Kimball plans to dismiss the case, much less because of that connection, but why wouldn’t this be an obvious conflict? Doesn’t he have a moral obligation (if not a legal one) to recuse himself in cases involving the Church?

Unfortunately, Kimball didn’t return my requests for comment. Only time will tell if this becomes a larger issue and captures the attention of the mainstream media.

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