St. Louis priest to have arrest record expunged after sexual abuse cases dropped

Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

August 30, 2022

By Jonah McKeown

[Via Catholic World Report]

A priest ministering in St. Louis — previously accused of abuse before prosecutors dropped all charges — will have his 2014 arrest record expunged after a judge’s ruling last week.

Father Xiu Hui “Joseph” Jiang, 39, had been accused of two separate instances of sexual abuse, but prosecutors dropped all charges in both cases. Jiang also prevailed in two civil lawsuits related to the accusations.

Circuit Judge Jason Sengheiser ruled Aug. 25 that Jiang had met the legal burden to have his 2014 arrest expunged. Jiang said during his hearing that he is currently studying in Rome and that his arrest record has caused problems for him at customs checkpoints when traveling abroad.

Jiang, a native of Shandong, China, was ordained a priest in St. Louis in 2010. He was first publicly accused of abuse in 2012 when a 16-year-old girl brought a civil lawsuit alleging that the priest had groped her. Jiang denied the charges, and a jury found in his favor in 2017.

Criminal charges related to the allegation of child endangerment and witness tampering were dropped in 2013, but Jiang’s arrest related to that case is still on his record, and he is seeking to have that arrest expunged as well, the AP reported.

The priest was criminally charged in 2014 with sexually abusing a boy in a Catholic school bathroom in 2011 and 2012, a charge that both he and the St. Louis Archdiocese strongly denied. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce later dropped all charges in 2015 without explanation.

Jiang subsequently countersued the male alleged victim’s family, St. Louis police, and the anti-clerical abuse organization Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) — which had publicized the allegations against him — alleging racial and religious discrimination in his wrongful accusal. The suit claimed that the boy’s parents “had a history of making unfounded claims against the Catholic Church for monetary gain.”

In 2016, a judge ruled that SNAP made false statements “negligently and with reckless disregard for the truth.” The lawsuit ultimately was settled, and as part of the settlement, SNAP issued an apology to Jiang for “any false or inaccurate statements.”

“The SNAP defendants never want to see anyone falsely accused of a crime. Admittedly, false reports of clergy sexual abuse do occur. The SNAP defendants have no personal knowledge as to the complaints against Fr. Joseph Jiang and acknowledge that all matters and claims against Fr. Jiang have either been dismissed or adjudicated in favor of Fr. Jiang,” the group stated.

Jiang was to be assigned to St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in 2018, which includes a K-8 school, but then-Archbishop Robert Carlson rescinded the assignment after parents expressed concerns about the allegations against Jiang. He was then assigned as parochial vicar at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis and was listed in the cathedral basilica’s bulletin as parochial vicar as recently as January 2020.

The archdiocese did not respond by press time to CNA’s request for further comment.