Joseph Neipp, 72, a former Bishop at the Church in San Jose, is accused of sexually abusing two sisters, known as Jane Doe and Jane Doe 2. The lawsuit claims that the Church in San Jose knew about the former Bishops abuse and could have prevented it from happening.
Neipp was once the bishop of San Jose’s Branham Ward in South San Jose where one of the sisters allegedly met him when they enrolled in a church-sponsored program.
According to the lawsuit, Jane Doe was sexually abused by Neipp between 2009 to 2016 and her sister, Jane Doe 2 was abused from 2012-2016.
Neipp is currently under criminal charges for child sex abuse in the Santa Clara County Superior Court.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is named in the lawsuit, claiming that they had a duty to protect the young girls from sexual abuse by Church leaders. It also says that Neipp had “groomed” the girls on Church property.
The lawsuit goes on to say that the girls family was especially trusting of Neipp since church members are taught that bishops are chosen by God to represent a ward.
“The Church taught its members, including plaintiffs and their parents, that the Bishop was chosen by God to represent the ward. As such, plaintiffs and their parents especially trusted Neipp,” the document states.
“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.
The lawsuit claims that the Church leaders were aware of Neipp’s potential threat to children prior to the abuse.