MO - Criminal charges v. priest tossed out but civil case v. him proceeds
For immediate release: Friday, Nov. 22, 2013
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
We are very upset that judge has ended the criminal case against an accused predator priest who has close ties to Archbishop Robert Carlson. Our hearts ache for this courageous victim and her parents who have done their moral and civic duty by helping law enforcement pursue a manipulative child molester.
There’s something wrong in our justice system when a prosecutor has a prompt abuse report and solid evidence – emails, a $20,000 check, a phone message, a witness - yet a judge tosses out the charges.
It’s possible, of course, that the prosecutor will file other charges against Fr. Jiang. We hope she will.
Regardless, this ruling makes it even more crucial that every single person who saw, suspected or suffered Fr. Jiang’s crimes steps forward. He’s a smart, cunning and young priest. He’ll keep hurting kids unless he’s convicted and imprisoned.
Thank heavens this brave family has the strength to pursue a civil suit against the Catholic archdiocese. As in thousands of similar clergy sex abuse and cover up cases across the US, the civil justice system may do what the criminal justice system may not do: hold a pedophile priest responsible for the harm he has caused and keep him away from other vulnerable children.
Rarely are members of the clergy criminal charged with child sex crimes and it is even rarer when they are convicted. They are all too often given deference that few others can expect, with access to powerful defense attorneys.
This of course does not mean Fr. Jiang is innocent. It simply means at this point in time the high, tough standards of the criminal justice system have not been met. So if children are to be safer, others with knowledge of or suspicions about Fr. Jiang must speak up. We beg them to call secular authorities, not church figures.
Let’s remember that fewer than four percent of all accused pedophile priests ever face criminal charges.
In the Catholic church, those who commit and conceal child sex crimes are well-educated and shrewd. They hire expensive defense lawyers and exploit every possible legal loophole. So it always has been and still is very tough for police and prosecutors to successfully convict these clever criminals.
Locally, for instance, city prosecutors filed criminal charges against Fr. Joseph D. Ross for molesting a girl and later dropped them. And city prosecutors convicted Fr. Thomas Graham of molesting a boy but the case was later overturned on a technicality. A city jury awarded $1.2 million to a victim of Fr. James Gummersbach but that too was overturned later on a technicality. A notorious local predator priest, Fr. James Beine faced federal charges in Illinois and state charges in Missouri but exploited technicalities and walked free (only to move to Nevada where he tried to get a teaching license). Two dozen victims were molested by Fr. Michael McGrath in a half a dozen municipalities yet there have never been any criminal charges filed against him.
Fr. Bryan Kuchar admitting molesting a boy, recanted, went to trial and walked free after a hung jury. (Luckily, he was re-tried and convicted after prosecutors found three new witnesses who confirmed that Kuchar admitted his crimes to them as well.)
In Kansas City, there are 25 publicly accused predator priests. Only one, Fr. Shawn Ratigan, ever faced criminal charges
(Documentation on all of this is available at BishopAccountability.org)
So while today’s news is distressing, it’s just another in a long line of depressing cases in which Catholic officials who commit and conceal heinous crimes against children exploit archaic legal loopholes to hide their crimes.
Finally, we urge Archbishop Robert Carlson to insist that Fr. Jiang turn over his passport to him while the civil case proceeds, so that Fr. Jiang doesn’t flee overseas, as dozens of child molesting clerics have done. We are very fearful that Fr. Jiang will hop on the next plane home to China or elsewhere and continue molesting girls for years to come.