For immediate release: Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Tomorrow, for what we believe will be the first time ever, prosecutors will depose St. Louis’ highest ranking Catholic official (and one of his top aides) in a troubling, recent child sex abuse case.
We believe it’s the first time any St. Louis archbishop has been deposed in any clergy sex case – criminal or civil. Nationally, it’s rare that members of the church hierarchy are deposed in these cases and even more rare when it’s a criminal case.
We hope Carlson doesn’t “plead the Fifth” or delay the deposition. We hope he tells the truth. And we hope prosecutors will ask him pointed questions about warning signs that Fr. Joseph Jiang was a predator and about the $20,000 check from Jiang to a victim’s parents that Carlson reportedly tried to get his hands on.
Fr. Jiang is accused of repeatedly molesting a girl as recently as last summer. He allegedly admitted the abuse to her parents and then left them a check for $20,000. That day, Carlson reportedly called the girl’s mom and asked if he could get the check. In a civil suit, Carlson is charged with “evidence tampering.” We wonder if he will or should face similar criminal charges.
And we’re curious about Deacon Phil Hengen’s role in all of this. He is also being deposed. He purports to “help victims.” But over the years, we’ve received many concerns and complaints by victims about him. If prosecutors want to question him, we can’t help but wonder if he too is playing a role in the cover up of Fr. Jiang’s crimes.
Carlson has stayed silent about this disturbing case. His archdiocesan newspaper is ignoring the criminal and civil cases. (Fr. Jiang is mentioned 11 times on the archdiocesan newspaper website. Just one of those stories mentions the credible child sex abuse accusations against the priest. And it’s more than a year old. No story mentions the serious allegations against Carlson. No story mentions the civil lawsuit against Carlson. No story mentions the upcoming depositions. No story mentions where Fr. Jiang is now.
According to BishopAccountability.org, there are 52 proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics in the St. Louis archdiocese. There have been, we suspect, more than 100 civil clergy sex abuse and cover up lawsuits here. None of the cases, however, are as alarming as this one.
We hope these determined prosecutors and this brave family will be able to pry the truth out of Carlson, Hengen and other archdiocesan officials who continue to put their reputations above children’s safety.
And we hope every single person who has seen, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups here will find the courage to call police, prosecutors, therapists, support groups and other independent sources, so that this horror doesn’t continue.
A photo of Fr. Jiang is available at BishopAccountability.org