Priest-abuse Group SNAP Hit with Sanctions
By Joe Harris
Courthouse News Service
August 26, 2016
ST. LOUIS (CN) — A federal judge sanctioned the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests and of its two leaders for violating her orders in a defamation case filed by a priest who claims he was wrongfully accused.
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 June 2015.
Jiang claimed in the lawsuit that the allegations were brought by a deeply troubled 12-year-old boy, that the officers failed to fully investigate the claims, and that SNAP embarked on a smear campaign.
Criminal charges against Jiang were dismissed by the city prosecutor.
U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson ordered SNAP to produce the boy's identity and the amounts of contributions made to SNAP from 2005 to 2012 by the law firm of Chackes, Carlson & Gorovsky so that Jiang's attorneys could prepare their case.
On June 27 this year, Jackson informed SNAP that there is no "rape crisis center privilege," as the group claimed, and gave it until July 22 to comply with her order.
Rather than do that, SNAP reiterated its assertion of privilege.
That was it, for the judge. On Monday, she granted Jiang's motion for sanctions against defendants SNAP, its executive director David Clohessy, and its victims outreach director Barbara Dorris.
"At no time have the SNAP defendants attempted to address their purported confidentiality concerns through other means beyond their repeated assertions of a nonexistent privilege," Jackson wrote. "As plaintiff points out, the SNAP defendants have never proposed targeted redactions of names of third-party victims or attorneys-eyes-only disclosures. ...
"Instead of complying with the Court's orders or seeking viable alternatives to achieving their objectives in compliance with their obligations under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the SNAP defendants have filed four meritless motions rehashing the same arguments and misconstruing the Court's orders."
She ordered the defendants to pay reasonable expenses for Jiang, including his attorney's fees that were caused by SNAP's non-compliance.
Jackson's 8-page order clearly indicates that she has lost patience with the defendants.
"Even if the SNAP defendants' violations were not deliberate or in bad faith, the Court does not believe that a less extreme sanction would suffice. Staying discovery until the SNAP defendants obey the Court's orders would only protract rather than advance this litigation without any desired effect. Based on their conduct and filings in this case, the SNAP defendants have clearly indicated that they will not comply with the Court's discovery orders under any circumstances. Thus, holding the SNAP defendants in contempt of court likewise will not compel their compliance with the Court's orders."
Clohessy told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the Chackes Carlson law firm did donate to SNAP from 2005-12 but never represented the organization, and he doesn't know why Jiang's lawyers want that information.
Clohessy called Jackson's order a "worrisome" setback but said that SNAP respects the court's authority.
"That's obviously a concern, but it's less a concern for us than the ability of victims and alleged victims to report predators and be protected," he told the Post-Dispatch. "We'll keep fighting, you know. We have no choice."
Clohessy told the Post-Dispatch that turning over the identity of the alleged victim could have a chilling effect on victims of sex abuse by priests.