ST. LOUIS (CN) – A Catholic priest accused of sexual misconduct with minors sued an accuser’s parents, claiming they targeted him for mentary gain because of his race, and the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, claiming the group defamed him.
The Rev. Xiu Hui “Joseph” Jiang sued St. Louis, two city police officers, the parents A.M. and N.M., the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests and SNAP leaders David Clohessy and Barbara Dorris in Federal Court.
Jiang claims the officers failed to fully investigate the claims and that SNAP embarked on a smear campaign, damaging his reputation.
The charges against Jiang were dismissed by St. Louis City Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Joyce in June without explanation.
Jiang says in his June 25 complaint that the accusations were brought by a deeply troubled 12-year-old boy at the suggestion of an abusive father. He claims the father made the suggestions after the boy told his dad that he thought he was gay.
“According to Minor, his father A.M. ‘hates’ gay people and would go ‘be[r]serk’ if he believed Minor was gay,” the complaint states. “Accordingly, Minor had a powerful motive to agree with his abusive father’s suggestion that Minor had been molested as an explanation of his feelings.”
Jiang claims the boy never had personal contact with him and “deliberately targeted Fr. Joseph for false accusation because he is a Chinese national who is easily identifiable among Roman Catholic priests” as “the only Chinese priest in the City of St. Louis.”
Jiang claims the parents sent a letter demanding money from the Catholic Church on Sept. 19, 2014 – and that it was not the first time the parents had done so.
In either 2009 or 2010, the complaint states, the parents demanded money and threatened to sue over alleged mistreatment of their son at a Catholic grade school. Jiang claims the threat of litigation led to an incident in which A.M. physically assaulted the school principal.
Jiang claims that on Sept. 16, 2013, the parents sent a demand letter to the principal of another Catholic grade school, claiming it failed to protect their son from bullying.
In the lawsuit, Jiang says that during an interview with the boy, defendant police Officer Jaimie Pitterle asked leading questions, suggesting that Jiang had performed oral sex on the boy.
Jiang says the minor’s answers showed signs of being coached. He claims that a thorough investigation by St. Louis police would have found several things:
that the parents had a history of making accusations against the church for monetary gain;
that the accuser was an emotionally troubled child;
that it would have been impossible for Jiang to sexually assault the boy in a particular restroom, as the boy claimed, because that restroom was locked at that time of day;
and that there were no witnesses who saw Jiang pull the boy out of line or return him to class afterward, as the boy claimed.
St. Louis police referred questions to prosecutor Joyce’s office, which issued a rather ambiguous statement: “Prosecutors within the Circuit Attorney’s Office dismissed charges against Xiuhui Jiang for the reason that the state is unable to proceed at this time. The statute of limitations in this case does not run for another 35 years. The Office remains hopeful that charges will be refiled in the future.”
Jiang claims in his lawsuit that SNAP ran a “false and malicious” campaign to defame him.
He claims that SNAP’s false statements included calling him a “cunning predator,” a “predator priest,” a published comment “that Fr. Joseph ‘belongs in a remote, secure, independent treatment center far away from kids and with real oversight,'” and that “Fr. Jiang … will molest again.”
In a June 26 posting on its website, which was still posted on July 1, SNAP called Jiang’s lawsuit against the parents the first of its kind.
“For us, this will be a draining distraction from our child safety work. But for these brave two families, we fear this will be much worse. Jiang’s victims are suffering,” SNAP director Clohessy said in a statement. “The parents of Fr. Jiang’s victims are suffering. All of them will now suffer even more.”
The statement continued: “Jiang fears being imprisoned. [Archbishop Robert J.] Carlson fears being exposed. If they can shut folks up, their wrongdoing stays hidden. That’s what this is all about – intimidating others who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes and cover ups into staying silent.
“Fr. Jiang likely did this with Archbishop Carlson’s OK. If so, that’s just despicable.
“Fr. Jiang may have done this without Carlson’s OK. If so, Carlson must denounce this selfish and cruel move.
“A few priests have been falsely accused. Jiang isn’t one of them.”
This isn’t the first time Jiang has been involved in a sexual misconduct investigation involving a minor.
Jiang was arrested in 2012 on allegations that he molested a Lincoln County girl. Jiang was charged by the Lincoln County Prosecuting Attorney’s office with child sex crimes and victim tampering, according the SNAP website, but those charges were dismissed in November 2013.
Lincoln County Prosecutor Leah Wommack-Askey was unavailable for comment Tuesday.
The girl’s parents filed a civil lawsuit against the Archdiocese of St. Louis and Carlson in July 2013 in Lincoln County, 55 miles northwest of St. Louis.
Though Jiang was not listed as a defendant, that lawsuit claims the defendants knew Jiang was a danger to children and that Jiang was living in Archbishop Carlson’s house at the time of the alleged abuse.
That lawsuit claimed that Jiang attempted to give the girl’s parents a $20,000 check as an attempt to apologize. It also claimed that Carlson called the parents, told them that Jiang had admitted to some wrongdoing, but that he would not be removed from the priesthood unless it was determined that he had sex with the girl.
That lawsuit is pending.
According to Jiang’s lawsuit, the latest allegations have destroyed his life and ministry. Jiang says he fled China because of religious persecution, only to be persecuted in the United States.
Jiang seeks punitive damages for civil rights violations and defamation. He is represented by D. John Sauer.
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