A Lincoln County judge has refused to dismiss the civil lawsuit filed against the Archdiocese of St. Louis and Archbishop Robert Carlson by the family of an underage girl who alleges priest Xiu Hui "Joseph" Jiang sexually abused her.
Lawyers for the archdiocese wanted the judge to dismiss charges that the church failed to supervise Jiang and intentionally inflicted emotional distress by arguing that the church isn't responsible for the abuse if it isn't on church property. The judge denied their motion.
"We are pleased with the court's ruling that the case against the archdiocese can proceed despite the defendants' argument that it should be dismissed because most of abuse happened off church property," says the family's lawyer, Ken Chackes. "We argued that the archdiocese still had control over Jiang even when he was molesting the victim at her family's home in Lincoln County."
Jiang is no longer facing criminal charges for the abuse allegations that spurred the lawsuit. Judges ruled he was not alone with the victim, so child-endangerment and witness-tampering charges were dropped.
The civil lawsuit against Jiang says he asked his victim, a minor, to look good for him, to dress more like a woman than a girl, even buying her an expensive Coach purse. The victim lost 25 pounds and was upset that she didn't look enough like a woman for the priest, according to the lawsuit.
Jiang, who told his victim he wanted to marry her, directed her to set up a private e-mail account so they could communicate, according to the lawsuit. When her parents found explicit e-mails, they confronted Jiang, who admitted to the abuse, left the house and returned with a $20,000 check.
Archbishop Carlson called the family to say Jiang had confessed, according to the lawsuit. He said he would remove Jiang from the priesthood only if he'd had sex with a child and suggested the family return the check he left them.
"Defendants Archdiocese and Archbishop failed to stop Father Jiang from engaging in sexual behavior or to notify children or their parents of Jiang's propensity to sexually abuse minors," the lawsuit says. "As a result, Father Jiang was allowed unlimited access to the minor plaintiff because [the parents] trusted that their parish priest was safe."
The news that the case against Jiang will move forward came down the same day a different civil suit against the archdiocese was settled out of court. In that case, a woman claimed she'd been abused by known sex offender and former priest Joseph Ross, sometimes while her mother was at choir practice.
Jiang, 31, currently faces two counts of first-degree statutory sodomy for sexual conduct with a boy younger than fourteen at the St. Louis Cathedral School, in the 4400 block of Maryland Avenue. The boy told investigators Jiang abused him twice in a school bathroom between July 2011 and August 2012, according to court documents.
Jiang is out on bail, and the archdiocese revoked his canonical privileges while he faces the charges.
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