For immediate release: Monday, April 21, 2014
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 members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org). Our mission is to heal the wounded and protect the vulnerable. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we help anyone who was hurt in any institutional setting.
We have two key concerns – what Archbishop Robert Carlson is saying about the Fr. Joseph Jiang case and what Archbishop Carlson is doing about the Fr. Jiang case.
What he's SAYING about the case is deceptive, self-serving and cruel.
There are 52 publicly accused St. Louis child molesting Catholic clerics. Archbishop Robert Carlson has been involved in clergy sex cases since 1984. And Carlson is a smart man, surrounded by plenty of smart lawyers and smart public relations people.
So Carlson knows how to respond when allegations of clergy sex crimes surface. But when his close pal Fr. Joseph Jiang was arrested Friday on a second set of criminal child sex charges, Carlson chose to publicly cast doubt on and violate the privacy of the second alleged victim's family. Shame on him and on every person on his staff who played a role in this callous, self-serving statement.
Carlson publicly cast doubt on this courageous family when, on Friday, he issued a statement claiming that the second victim's family supposedly didn't mention child sex abuse until this week. http://archstl.org/commoffice/press-release/2014/statement-regarding-new-allegation
Everyone knows that the overwhelming majority of child sex abuse victims can't understand and disclose their trauma until decades later. So delays in reporting child sex crimes are not unusual or relevant at all.
But by mentioning the alleged delay, Carlson is deliberately casting doubt on the victim's family.
(What's ironic here is that in many cases, Carlson and other Catholic officials question and criticize victims who step forward decades after their abuse. Now, a victim reports promptly, while he is still a child, and Carlson attacks him too for his timing. When exactly does Carlson feel it's appropriate for those who are raped, sodomized or fondled by priests to speak up?)
Carlson publicly violated the privacy of this courageous family when, in the same statement, he claimed this family raised concerns about bullying in their parochial school.
Because parishes and parochial schools are usually “tightly-knit,” by publicly disclosing that the alleged bullying, Carlson is basically “outing” the victim's identity to perhaps dozens and dozens of people with whom the victim and his family goes to church and school.
Neither of Carlson' s claims – even if they are true - have any bearing whatsoever on whether these new criminal charges are valid. And Carlson knows that by making both of these claims public, he may well be able to scare or discourage others with information about predator priests from stepping forward.
To protect his reputation and his friend Fr. Jiang, Carlson continues to deliberately play mean-spirited legal and public relations hardball by impugning the honesty and motives of the second alleged victim's family. Again, he should be ashamed of himself.
What Carlson has been DOING about the Fr. Jiang case is also deceptive, self-serving and cruel.
Carlson is letting Fr. Jiang live among unsuspecting neighbors just six minutes away from the parish where he molested two children.
Carlson's being deceptive by dodging a key question: Did Fr. Jiang admit to Carlson that he molested the girl? That's what the girl's parents say in their civil lawsuit.
It's a very simple question with a simple answer: yes or no. But Carlson, despite his repeated pledges to be honest and open in clergy sex cases, refuses to answer.
He's also being deceptive by refusing to admit that, in the girl's case, police and prosecutors have said they have phone messages, text messages, a $20,000 check from Fr. Jiang to the girl's parents. By refusing to mention this, Carlson helps Fr. Jiang claim to be innocent. That, in turn, enables Fr. Jiang to be around more children.
Carlson's being self-serving by refusing to disclose
–where Fr. Jiang has lived for the last two years,
–why he kept Fr. Jiang's whereabouts secret,
–why Fr. Jiang moves from city to city with Carlson,
– why Fr. Jiang had living/sleeping quarters in both his parish rectory and archbishop's home,
--whether or not, as the civil lawsuit against Carlson asserts, Fr. Jiang admitted to Carlson --whether church officials paid Fr. Jiang's bail the second time (as they did the first time)
And Carlson's being cruel by letting a twice-accused predator priest live near unsuspected families with little or no supervision minutes away from Cathedral parish. It's cruel to the families of his victims, and rubs salt into their already-deep and still-fresh wounds. And it's cruel to other Cathedral parents who must worry about whether Fr. Jiang is still hanging around the church or the school or other families who believe he's innocent.
Until now, no one in St. Louis knew that child molesting clerics live at the Dominican center at 3047 Lafayette. (There is at least one other predator priest here: Fr. Vincent Bryce who admitted molesting a boy.) http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2007/11_12/2007_11_11_Dwyer_PastorReportedly.htm
Carlson's deception and his reckless decision to let Fr. Jiang live on Lafayette may have enabled the priest to molest a boy a second time.
Fr. Jiang was suspended in June 2012 for allegedly molesting a girl between 2011 and 2012.
Fr. Jiang, according to city prosecutors, molested a boy at the Cathedral as late as August 2012.
So it's possible that Fr. Jiang molested the boy in August 2012, AFTER his June 2012 suspension for molesting the girl. If so, Archbishop Carlson could have prevented at least some of the second victim’s abuse. Carlson’s woeful disregard for the safety of children is appalling.
And even if somehow this timeline is wrong, it's clear that having a credibly accused predator priest secretly living with other priests just five or six minutes away from the parish where he allegedly molested two kids is dangerous. Fr. Jiang's presence nearby could intimidate witnesses, whistleblowers and victims. It could enable him to potentially destroy evidence, threaten witnesses, and discredit whistleblowers. And it could easily enable him to visit other Cathedral parishioners with kids.
As we've said repeatedly for the past two years, Fr. Jiang should be put in a remote and secure treatment facility far from St. Louis. (That way, even if he's unsupervised again, he would have to start all over winning the trust of parents to gain access to their kids.)
Finally, our hearts go out to anyone who has been sexually violated in any way at any age by St. Louis Catholic clerics. Our hearts especially go out to these two brave families who are doing their civic and moral duties.
And our hearts go out to the neighbors of this Dominican center and other neighbors who have proven, admitted or credibly accused child molesting clerics secretly living nearby.
Let’s hope that every person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes and cover ups in St. Louis – by Fr. Jiang or others - will find the courage and strength to speak up, call police, expose wrongdoing, protect kids and start healing.
It's reckless to assume that Fr. Jiang will be convicted and imprisoned. He got off last time on a technicality and he'll certainly try that again. Predator priests almost always get top-notch lawyers (often paid by the archdiocese).
And it's reckless to assume that Catholic officials will now really keep Fr. Jiang away from kids. (Fr. Alex Anderson has been accused by three different people of molesting them as kids yet he remains in a parish today.)
So it's crucial that those who could help police and prosecutors effectively pursue this case do their moral and civic duty and step forward now.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 15,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)