Trial begins in priest sex abuse case
By Megan Myers
Lincoln County Journal
April 4, 2017
A civil trial began last week in which a Lincoln County family is suing the St. Louis Archdiocese and Archbishop Robert Carlson for failing to protect their daughter from a priest who they say molested her while she was a teen.
The alleged sexual abuse by Father Xui Hui “Joseph” Jiang, who is also being sued, occurred while the woman was 16 years old and was living with her family in Old Monroe in 2012.
The civil suit was filed in 2013, after criminal charges against Jiang were dismissed.
At the time of the alleged abuse, the priest was working at the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis, where the family was attending church.
According to court documents, Jiang “became close to the family” and “would regularly visit their home in Lincoln County.”
During one such visit, Jiang, who was 25 at the time, allegedly groped the teen’s breasts and genital area while the two were sitting next to each other underneath a blanket on the family’s couch. The plaintiff alleges that Jiang also made her touch his genital area.
But during cross examination of Jiang’s accuser, now 21, defense attorney Ryann Carmody questioned the plausibility of the incident, given the fact that the plaintiff’s family was in the same room at the time.
She also characterized the affection between the plaintiff and Jiang as mutual, and asked the plaintiff in front of the all-female jury why she hadn’t told her parents about the alleged abuse when it occurred right in front of them.
The woman responded that she had been too “shocked and afraid” to react to the touching.
In court documents, the plaintiffs charge that Jiang also kissed the teen on several occasions, and exchanged text messages and e-mails with her that were sexual in nature.
When the girl’s parents found the emails, they confronted Jiang, who allegedly confessed and said he would report his actions to Carlson, who attended the trial last week.
Jiang left the family a $20,000 check and an apologetic note before trying to leave the U.S. the next morning to go back to China.
The plaintiff had also said that Carlson knew that Jiang was dangerous prior to the alleged abuse occurring, citing the fact that he had been “reassigned from China by the Pope for reasons unknown to the plaintiff.”
But during opening statements, the Archdiocese’ defense attorney Gerard Noce told the jury that “there were no sexual misconduct allegations against Jiang before the plaintiff’s allegations.”
Noce conceded that Jiang had confessed to Carlson in a telephone conversation about kissing the girl, but nothing more. Noce said the $20,000 check that Jiang had left the family was for their use as a down payment on a new house.
The trial continues this week and is expected to wrap up Friday.
St. Louis Circuit judge Steven Ohmer is presiding over the case.