Woman Faces Trial After Protesting Sexual Assault at Mormon Church Conference

Last year, Crystal Legionaires attended the annual general conference held by the Church of Latter Day Saints, or Mormon church, in Salt Lake City, Utah. At one point, she disrupted a speaker by shouting that the church should “stop protecting sexual predators!” Eventually, security ejected her from the conference — but not before managing to cause a stir.

One year later, Legionaires is headed to court for her act of protest. She faces criminal charges of disrupting a meeting, which in Utah is considered a Class B misdemeanor. Her trial is set to move forward at the behest of the Mormon Church after Legionaires rejected a plea deal.

Legionaires explains that he protest aimed to shed light on a culture of sexual abuse and survivor silence that’s existed within the Church of the Latter Day Saints for decades. She was inspired, in part, by the case of McKenna Denson.

Denson filed a lawsuit against the church last year alleging that Joseph Bishop, a senior member of the Provo, Utah-based Missionary Training Center, raped her in 1984. She eventually decided to seek help from leaders within the church and ask that something be done about Bishop. And though Denson says she was promised that Bishop would face repercussions, he never did.

More recently, inspired by the #MeToo movement, Denson decided to file a civil lawsuit against the Church of Latter Day Saints, as Utah’s statute of limitations laws preclude any kind of criminal charges. However, Denson has been facing some severe backlash over her legal action, which many members of the church find publicly embarrassing.

Now living in Pueblo, Colorado, Denson says she has been the target of increasingly hostile acts of harassment since filing her lawsuit.

Denson claims that it began when she returned home from taking her daughter school. After she prepared breakfast for herself, which included a glass of orange juice, she was quickly hospitalized. The cause appeared to be the presence of Drano in her juice — an attempted poisoning. Fortunately, Denson drank very little juice before realizing that something was amiss, and she was released from the hospital after a few days.

Several days later, Denson’s vehicle, parked near her house, was set aflame in the early morning hours. Police say that there were traces of incendiary liquids found inside, and a neighbor’s security camera recording shows some sort of ignition.

Almost a week later, Denson spotted someone in her front yard. She says it was dark, but she went outside to confront the intruder, who then began to run away. Instinctively, Denson says she gave chase before a second individual tackled her from behind, forcing her to the ground — and ultimately breaking her nose, wrist and a finger.

While police say they are investigating all three incidents, they lack leads on specific suspects.

Though Denson does not wish to lay blame at anyone’s feet  — citing a lack of solid evidence and an absence of criminal suspects — it’s difficult to deny the obvious motivation behind these violent acts: They’re meant to terrorize and intimidate Denson for publicly exposing the Church of Latter Day Saints and its mistreatment of survivors of sexual assault.

Take Action!

The Church of Latter Day Saints must end this practice of intimidation and harassment against women taking a stand against sexual abuse — be it through the courts or through illegal action.

Add your name to this Care2 petition and  call on the Mormon Church as well as prosecutors in Salt Lake City to drop criminal charges against Crystal Legionaires! Her actions deserve applause, not punishment.

Concerned about an issue? Want to raise awareness about an injustice? Join your fellow Care2 users by learning how to make your own petition and make your voice heard today!

 

Photo Credit: Geoff Livingston/Flickr

62 comments

Richard B
Richard B17 days ago

signed

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Karen S
Karen Swenson24 days ago

What a bunch of deplorable cowards. Here we have again, patriarchy, terrorizing a lone woman, because she dares to speak out about the abuses this Church has continually heaped on women since its Fairy Tale conception.

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Winn A
Winn Adams24 days ago

Disgusting

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Lesa D
Lesa DiIorio25 days ago

#27639 petition signed...

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Lesa D
Lesa DiIorio25 days ago

thank you Llowell...

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Lara A
Lara A26 days ago

Done . Thank you.

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Gary B
Gary Blackburn26 days ago

Your assertion that the three incidents were meant to "terrorize and intimidate Denson" is COMPLETELY unfounded; there is absolutely no evidence to support your assertion. You should abandon your attempt at journalism if that is the nature of your integrity.

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Ben O
Ben O27 days ago

Holy crap! -Signed of course...

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Hannah A
Hannah A27 days ago

Madness. Signed.

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Brandy S
Brandy S27 days ago

Thank you.

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