Former Mormon Church bishop and father of convicted child molester is also accused of sexually abusing the two children referenced in the lawsuit
Joseph Neipp’s sordid story demonstrates how pedophiles use friends, churches and schools to gain access to victims
Seventy-two-year-old Joseph Neipp’s professional resume is pretty impressive: after graduating from Saratoga High School in 1966, Neipp received a bachelor’s degree in educational psychology from UC-Santa Cruz and a master’s in education from the University of San Francisco.
Degrees in hand, Neipp embarked on a Silicon Valley career that included stints at Teledyne Microwave Systems, Ungerman-Bass Networks and National Semiconductor.
He’s no longer listed as an adjunct professor in Santa Clara University’s engineering department, but he is listed as a Palo Alto University faculty member, where his online biography says Neipp likes reading, playing golf and is an “active professional musician.”
So how – and when – did his life go off the rails?
The biography provides a partial answer. “I have taught at middle school, high school and graduate school levels,” it says.
There’s no mention of the fact that he was a substitute elementary school teacher and was also the Branham Ward bishop for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in San Jose.
What the civil sexual abuse lawsuit alleges
A civil sexual abuse lawsuit filed in May 2020 by Corsiglia, McMahon and Allard alleges that Neipp used the bishop’s position to “groom” two sisters that he sexually abused and whose family belonged to the Branham Ward congregation.
The sisters are listed as Jane Doe and Jane Doe 2 in the civil suit and are also involved in the criminal case against Neipp. A third victim has also brought criminal charges.
San Jose Police arrested Neipp in January 2019 (felony case C1902632) following interviews with the girls. One of the girls told police that she confronted Neipp in 2017 about his abuse and he promised her it would never happen again.
That confrontation occurred after Joseph Neipp’s son, Samuel, was arrested for sexual abuse. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Samuel Neipp is serving a 56-year prison sentence for lewd and lascivious conduct with two minor girls under the age of 14. The girls were students at Dartmouth Middle School in San Jose, where Samuel Neipp was a music teacher. The charges against him included sexual penetration, oral copulation and unlawful sexual intercourse.
In their civil suit, the Doe sisters allege that Neipp used his position as the Branham Ward bishop to “groom” them.
Attorney Robert Allard points out that Neipp’s behavior was questioned by at least one church-goer.
“In 2009, 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, the church excommunicated Neipp and removed him from his position as bishop. But they didn’t bother to tell anybody what they’d done, so he was still regarded as the bishop or the ‘father of the ward.’ That’s why parents were under the impression that it was safe for children to be around him.”
“It’s clear that Neipp is a dangerous man who repeatedly used his positions of authority to sexually abuse young girls,” Mr. Allard said. “The fact that his son is also a convicted sexual predator is equally frightening. These types of people leave their dirty prints everywhere they go – inflicting harm on innocent children and causing long-lasting emotional distress. So, we bring these cases in hopes of putting a stop to these horrible behaviors and to teach parents, school officials, church leaders and others about the red flags that signal child sexual abuse.”
The red flag or grooming behaviors include things like getting a child alone, showing favoritism toward a child, spending one-on-one time with a child, gift-giving and inappropriate touching like hugs and back rubs. To avoid suspicion, pedophiles also groom parents and community members to trust them.
Former San Jose sex crimes police detective Mike Leininger explains the grooming process: