Judge rules sexual abuse lawsuit involving St. Louis priest will proceed to trial
A Lincoln County judge has ruled that a sexual-abuse civil case involving a local priest can proceed to trial.
Attorneys for the Archdiocese of St. Louis and Archbishop Robert Carlson had tried in September to have a lawsuit involving the Rev. Xiu Hui “Joseph” Jiang dismissed, in part because the alleged abuse occurred away from church property.
“Despite the fact that one of its priests, Father Joseph Jiang, used his power and authority as a priest to manipulate and abuse a child, the archdiocese tried to have the case thrown out on a technicality,” said Nicole Gorovsky, one of the attorneys representing the family of the teenage girl at the center of the case. “They did not succeed.”
The judge issued the ruling on Dec. 28, though plaintiff attorneys said they only became aware of the court’s decision on Thursday.
Jiang was first arrested on allegations of molesting the girl in 2012. The two are said to have met when she was 15 and attending the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica with her family, where Jiang was associate pastor.
Lincoln County Judge Chris Kunza Mennemeyer dismissed the criminal case against Jiang in 2013 because prosecutors could not show that Jiang was ever the only one with the girl at her home, where the alleged abuse is said to have taken place.
Jiang is free on bail in St. Louis for criminal charges stemming from his alleged abuse of another child. That case involves a young boy.
The molestation is alleged to have taken place on two separate occasions at St. Louis the King School, the elementary school at the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica. Police said the unnamed boy told detectives and a forensic interviewer that sometime between July 1, 2011, and Aug. 1, 2012, Jiang molested him in the school’s bathroom.
In a statement Friday, the archdiocese said it stands ready to defend itself against the two charges remaining in the civil case. The court has already dismissed five other charges.
“Until the legal issues, which we expect to be resolved favorably, are fully resolved, Fr. Jiang resides in a secure environment and does not have any priestly faculties or ministry which would put him in contact with minors,” said Gabe Jones, a spokesman for the archdiocese.
“Prayers are requested for everyone involved.”
“The Archdiocese of St. Louis encourages all persons with reports of misconduct with a minor involving a member of the clergy or other church personnel to contact Deacon Phil Hengen, Director of Child and Youth Protection, at 314-792-7704, the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 800-392-3738, or law enforcement officials.”
Jiang arrived in St. Louis in 2009, along with the newly installed archbishop. Originally from China, Jiang has been in Carlson’s care since he was a young seminarian.
Jiang had an impressive vocation story, one he was encouraged to share. In China, back home, his faith had been tested. He’d publicly spoken out against the government for appointing bishops in that country, rather than relinquishing control to Rome.
The Vatican apparently pulled Jiang out of China and assigned him to Carlson’s care. After following Carlson from Saginaw, Mich., to St. Louis, Jiang was ordained here in 2010.