LDS leader arrested on charges of taking photos of woman in H&M dressing room, church suspends him

Thalia Alcala (inset) said she fought back after former LDS bishop Steven Murdock, 55, illegally photographed her at an H&M store in Nashville, Tenn. | Facebook: Thalia Alcala

A prominent volunteer and former bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah has been suspended from his role after he was charged with illegally photographing a woman inside a dressing room at an H&M store at a mall in Nashville, Tennessee.

Police charged Steven Murdock, 55, of Salt Lake City, with the crime a week ago after Alondra Alcala, also identified on Facebook as Thalia Alcala, reported him to police.

“This type of behavior is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated from any Church member,” the church’s spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement released to WKRN on Tuesday evening. “When local leaders learned of the arrest and charges, he was immediately removed from all responsibilities.”

Hawkins said in addition to being a former bishop in the church, Murdock served as a high councilor, which he said is a volunteer position that helps with the administration of several local congregations in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“A person that engages in this type of behavior may have their church privileges restricted or may face the potential loss of church membership,” Hawkins added.

Alondra Alcala, the woman who was photographed, and is also identified on Facebook as Thalia Alcala, told News 4 and other media outlets that she confronted Murdock after she noticed a cellphone angled above her while she was undressing at the store on Aug. 13.

“I did feel violated. I felt gross. Why is this happening to me?” Alcala told Fox 13. “I undressed from the waist down, and I looked up. In the corner of the dressing room — at the top — there was a camera phone, an iPhone, pointing down at me. So obviously I knew I was being recorded. I freaked out. I froze.”

She said she quickly rushed to the dressing room next to where she was and confronted Murdock.

“He opened the curtain and I confronted him. I kind of cornered him into the dressing room so he had no way out. I kind of slapped the phone out of his hands and I was able to have it," Alcala said.

Murdock’s wife soon showed up and both of them tried to bribe her out of calling the police.

"They both offered us multiple times if we could please you know, make a deal with them without involving law enforcement,” she said.

He was arrested and later released after he posted a $1,000 bond.


Posted by Thalia Alcala on Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Responding to the incident at the store, H&M said in a statement to News 4 that, “The safety and well-being of our customers is our first priority. We are cooperating with the local authorities as this remains an ongoing investigation."

Despite the LDS church’s shocked response to Murdock’s behavior, John Dehlin, a trained clinical and counseling psychologist and CEO of The Open Stories Foundation alleged in a series of posts on Facebook that the LDS church has been aware of Murdock’s wayward behavior for a while.

“It is notable that the Murdocks were in Nashville to visit the mission area of their son, who recently completed his mission service there…, it has been reported to me that Murdock was fired from a recent job for groping another woman, and even though the Mormon church was informed of the groping, the stake president kept Murdock in the stake high council,” he wrote.

The Christian Post reached out to the LDS church for comment on the allegations Wednesday and will update this article when a response is received. 

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