For immediate release: July 16, 2013
Statement by Judy Jones of St. Louis, Assistant Midwest Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 974 5003, SNAPjudy@gmail.com)
Those who commit child sex crimes are sick. They largely cannot help themselves.
Those who publicly back child sex offenders, however, are even more morally culpable. They deliberately choose to act in ways that hurt children. They should be ashamed of themselves.
This includes a group of young adults at the Cathedral parish. Tonight they were to hold a prayer service for Fr. Joseph Jiang. Fr. Jiang is accused of repeatedly molesting a girl last year. He’s been arrested and charged
These parishioners were not praying for “justice to be done.” They weren’t praying “for the truth to emerge.” They weren’t praying for “all parties involved.” They were praying for an arrested, charged and credibly accused predator priest’s “defense and exoneration.”
Shame on them.
And shame on their pastor, who claims he didn’t know what was happening at his parish. Frankly, we find this hard to believe, especially since this event was apparently planned for months.
In a nutshell, here’s our choice: we adults can either make it easier or make it harder to help victims and stop molesters. Cathedral parishioners and staff are making it harder.
By publicly rallying around an arrested, charged and credibly accused child molesting cleric, they’re making it tougher on teens who are being abused and adults who have been abused to report offenders, help police, and protect children.
It’s already tough to step forward if you are being or have been molested. It becomes much tougher, though, when church goers and church staff publicly disbelieve an alleged victim and back an alleged abuser.
“But Fr. Jiang hasn’t been convicted, so don’t we have the right to publicly speak out on his behalf?” some might add.
Of course Fr. Jiang’s backers have the right to publicly support him. But they shouldn’t.
Because it hurts kids. It scares victims. It silences witnesses. It intimidates whistleblowers. It makes it harder to prosecute all molesters. It makes it easier for those who commit and conceal to get by with and continue their reckless, hurtful, deceitful and self-serving wrongdoing.
Remember the evidence that has already surfaced in this case: text messages, voice mails, and a $20,000 check from the priest to the girl’s family. And an arrest and two felony charges. This isn’t an old “he said, she said” case.
Why does this "rally around the accused priest" scenario keep happening? Because Archbishop Carlson either doesn't care or secretly wants it. We suspect that Carlson likes playing "good cop" and taking the "high road" in abuse cases while his employees and parishioners play "bad cop." Carlson professes to care about abuse victims, while letting his underlings blast abuse victims.
Catholic dioceses now provide training for kids on how to stop abuse and for adults on how to spot abuse. Why not train people on how to act decently when abuse reports surface? Is it because that kind of training might actually help more victims step forward and cause the archdiocese more embarrassment when more child molesting clerics are exposed, arrested, charged and convicted?
Even Catholic officials admit that the overwhelming majority of child sex allegations against priests are legitimate (especially when criminal charges have been filed). Still if you want to believe Fr. Jiang is innocent, you certainly can. But remember this teenaged girl. What if she were your daughter?
And think of other boys and girls in the Cathedral parish and the St. Louis area who have been or are being sexually violated by coaches, teachers, parents or ministers. How will you feel if, years from now, one of them says “I would have spoken up sooner, but I saw how Cathedral parishioners backed Fr. Jiang, not his alleged victim, so I thought no one would believe me. Now I regret keeping quiet because my perpetrator has since assaulted other kids.”