The Mormon sex in chains case was a widely-reported scandal involving an alleged sexual assault by an American woman, Joyce McKinney, on a young American male Mormonmissionary, Kirk Anderson, in England in 1977. According to Anderson, he had been abducted by McKinney from the steps of a church meetinghouse, chained to a bed and raped by her. Before the case could be tried, McKinney had jumped bail and fled to America. The case aroused amusement and curiosity, especially as rape by a woman was not technically on the law-books at the time.
A young Mormon missionary named Kirk Anderson went missing in 1977, in Ewell, Surrey, after he was abducted from the steps of a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A few days later a freed Anderson made a report to the police that he had been abducted, driven to Devon, and imprisoned against his will, chained to a bed in a cottage, where Joyce Bernann McKinney (b. August 1949) — a former Miss Wyoming — had abducted, attempted to seduce, and then raped him. The case became known by many sobriquets, including "The Mormon sex in chains case" and "The Case of the Manacled Mormon."
On 19 September 1977 McKinney was arrested and charged, but vigorously denied the charges. While being taken to Epsom for a court appearance, she held a notice up at the window of the police vehicle saying, "Kirk left with me willingly!" Press reports and McKinney's lawyer refer to the size differential between McKinney, described as slightly built, and Anderson, described as substantially larger.
Along with Keith May, her alleged co-conspirator, McKinney jumped bail and fled the country. On 18 July 1979, they were both arrested in the United States by the FBI on charges of making false statements in order to obtain passports. They both received suspended sentences.
No extradition proceedings were instituted by Britain, and the English court sentenced McKinney in absentia to a year in jail. Under the then-Sexual Offences Act 1956, due to the victim's gender, there was no crime of rape committed, though indecent assault of a man applied.
Coverage in the media
The coverage in British newspapers in the final months of 1977 was extensive and highly prominent. Some newspapers sought to obtain "scoops" on the story, and to undermine each other as they managed to obtain and publish exclusive information. For example, the Daily Mirror researched McKinney's past and reported over several days that she had been a nude model. The Daily Mail attempted to devalue the Mirror's reports by advertising itself as "The paper without Joyce McKinney."
Brian Whitaker observes that the case provided "light relief" for the newspaper-reading public, from more serious stories about politicians. Roger Wilkes states that the coverage of the case "cheered Britain up no end." A Church of Scotland working party on obscenity in 1979 observed the "gusto" with which newspapers covered and followed the case, noting the accompaniment of the coverage by "the kind of illustration which a decade ago would have been under plain sealed cover."
The coverage was extensive in part because the case was considered so anomalous, involving as it did the issue of rape of a man by a woman. Backhouse and Cohen reported in 1978 that many men, privately, expressed their disbelief of such a possibility.
The case was documented in Joyce McKinney and the Manacled Mormon, a book by Anthony Delano in 1978, who based his work on assembled Daily Mirror coverage.
In 1984 McKinney was again the subject of police action for allegedly stalking Anderson at his workplace, though he was now married with children.
In 2008 "Bernann McKinney" appeared in the media after having her pet dog cloned in Korea. Journalists attempted to tie the two incidents together in articles that claimed some facial similarity between "Bernann McKinney" and Joyce Bernann McKinney. After initial denials the International Herald Tribune and other publications carried an admission by McKinney that she was the person named in the 1977 case. The revival of interest in the story led the documentary filmmaker Errol Morris to produce his film, Tabloid (2010), based on the media sensation surrounding the story.
Anderson is now a real estate agent, and shies away from publicity. McKinney is reported to now use a wheelchair for mobility, and lives in Newland, in the western North Carolina mountains. Keith May, her co-conspirator, died in 2004.
O'Neill, Dan (2008-01-29). "A Mormon, a beauty queen and manacles...". South Wales Echo. Retrieved 2009-02-23. "Joyce, remanded on bail, came out after 11 weeks in Holloway in time to sign a deal with Penthouse Magazine, then disappeared with the faithful Keith, fleeing to Canada, sentenced in her absence to a year in jail"