David Clohessy for SNAP…


William D. Lindsey

David Clohessy for SNAP: Twice-Arrested Priest in St. Louis Still Being Defended by Small, Vocal Group of Local Catholics

I’d like to point readers today to David Clohessy’s posting at the SNAP blog site about the small but loud bunch of Catholics rallying around Father Joseph Jiang in St. Louis, after a teenaged girl alleged that Jiang sexually abused her when she was fifteen years old. As David notes, the girls’ parents believe her, as do the police, prosecutors, and St. Louis’s most experienced attorney dealing with clergy abuse cases, Ken Chackes.

As David also notes, in a court filing, law enforcement officials state that they have a phone message, several text messages, and a $20,000 check that Jiang is said to have left for the girl’s parents after they confronted him with their suspicions. Jiang has also been suspended by St. Louis archbishop Robert Carlson, and in the civil suit they’ve filed against Jiang (according to David, a criminal case has been dropped for complicated legal reasons), the parents of the girl state that Jiang admitted his guilt to them as well as to Carlson.

A boy has now come forth making allegations similar to those of the girl, and his parents believe him, as do the police and prosecutors. Even so, as Lilly Fowler and Jesse Bogan note recently for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a small but very vocal group of St. Louis Catholics is claiming that Father Jiang is being persecuted, and that the allegations against him are insubstantial.

As SNAP officials and others connected to groups supporting abuse survivors have repeatedly noted, the formation of vocal pressure groups to defend religious officials accused of sexual abuse of minors almost always complicates the process of investigating the claims of those who have alleged abuse. It creates an atmosphere in which those claims cannot easily be investigated and adjudicated, and it frequently lends comfort and assistance to religious authority figures who turn out to have done precisely what it’s alleged they have done.

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