A Roman Catholic priest said to have close ties to St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson has pleaded not guilty to sexual molestation charges.
The Rev. Xiu Hui “Joseph” Jiang pleaded not guilty on Monday morning to charges that he sexually abused a young boy at St. Louis the King School, the elementary school at the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica. Jiang faces two counts of statutory sodomy.
A grand jury, however, indicted Jiang last month, according to court records, meaning a grand jury found probable cause that a felony had been committed and a judge and trial date will be assigned to the case.
“I think he's probably disappointed that this has gone this far. That he's been indicted,” said Bill Hannegan, who along with his wife, Lucy, founded Friends of Fr. Joseph Jiang, a group more than 100 members strong that formed in 2012 to support the priest.
“It's a pretty scary situation.”
Paul J. D' Agrosa, Jiang's lawyer, said he was not surprised that Jiang had been indicted.
“I think a lot of people have a misperception of how independent a grand jury really is,” D' Agrosa said. “A grand jury is a just a tool for a prosecuting attorney.”
“If they want to get an indictment, they will get an indictment,” D' Agrosa said, noting that charges had been brought against Jiang by prosecuting attorney Jennifer M. Joyce without any evidence other than the child's testimony.
Joyce declined to comment, noting that the Circuit Attorney’s Office does not discuss open cases.
The molestation is alleged to have taken place on two separate occasions in the school's bathroom, sometime between July 1, 2011, and Aug. 1, 2012. The archdiocese has suspended the priest from his duties while the case is investigated.
The criminal case is the second accusing Jiang. The first, in which the priest was accused of fondling a teenage girl from Lincoln County, was dismissed last year, though a civil lawsuit is still pending.
Jiang was released on $150,000 bail in April.
Jiang was ordained here in 2010 and was named associate pastor at the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica.
The next hearing for Jiang is scheduled for July 21.