SAN JOSE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--An amended civil lawsuit, (Santa Clara County Superior Court (case #20CV366443) filed by the law firm of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard claims the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in San Jose could have prevented the sexual abuse of two young children by a former high-ranking leader of the church.
Joseph Neipp is accused of sexually abusing two sisters, referred to as Jane Doe and Jane Doe 2 in the lawsuit, while they were enrolled in a church-sponsored program,
Jane Doe was sexually abused by Neipp from 2009 to 2016 and Jane Doe 2 was abused from 2012-2016, the lawsuit says.
Neipp, 72, was once bishop of San Jose’s Branham Ward at 6625 Branham Ave. in south San Jose. A bishop is the leader of a congregation with duties similar to those of a priest or rabbi.
The lawsuit names the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which oversees Branham Ward operations, alleging that a special relationship existed between plaintiffs and the church, whereby the church had a duty to protect these two young girls from sexual abuse by church leaders. It alleges that Neipp inappropriately “groomed” the girls on church grounds.
Attorney Robert Allard said church leaders were aware of Neipp’s potential threat to children prior to the abuse of Jane Doe and Jane Doe 2.
“In either 2009 or 2010, the church was made aware that a Branham Ward parent complained that Neipp was stalking her and her children, and filed a restraining order saying she feared for their safety,” Mr. Allard said. “As a result of that complaint, it is our understanding the church excommunicated Neipp and removed him from his position as bishop, but didn’t bother to tell church members. So, he was still regarded as bishop or ‘Father of the Ward’ and parents were under the impression that it was safe for children to be around him.”
This family was especially trusting of Neipp since church members are taught that bishops are chosen by God to represent a ward.
“In his actual or apparent authoritative capacity as the bishop of the Branham Ward, Neipp repeatedly engaged in inappropriate grooming behavior with children during Primary classes and on or around ward events … including allowing small children to sit on his lap, and transporting plaintiffs and other young children alone in his vehicle to ward activities,” the lawsuit alleges.
Joseph Neipp is currently facing criminal charges for child sexual abuse in Santa Clara County Superior Court (case C1902632).
Anyone with information about Joseph Neipp is urged to contact Corsiglia McMahon & Allard by calling 408-289-1417.
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