ST. LOUIS - Some parents at St. Gabriel the Archangel have questions and concerns about why a priest twice accused of sexual abuse has been assigned to their south St. Louis Parish. Charges against Fr. Joseph Jiang were dropped in both cases.
Some parents who asked not to identified acknowledge charges were dropped but do not believe the priest should be assigned to a parish with a school. They believe the accusations raise enough questions.
“I’m just curious what their decision process was,” said one parent who wished to remain anonymous.
Jiang was accused of inappropriate contact with a 16-year-old girl. He had been staying with her family. The charges were dropped and Jiang filed a defamation suit against one of the groups leveling the accusations. That group was required to pay Jiang’s legal fees and issued a statement apologizing for any false statements.
The other case involved accusations of abuse involving a boy in a school bathroom. Prosecutors dropped those charges.
Some parents expressed concerns over the thought of their child having interactions with Jiang.
“I understand the charges were dropped against him but anytime there’s a question I think the kids should come first,” said a parent not wishing to be identified.
The St. Louis Archdiocese released a statement from Archbishop Robert Carlson that reads:
“As you are already aware, I have appointed Fr. Joseph Jiang as Associate Pastor of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish.
Most of you are, no doubt, familiar with the circumstances under which Fr. Jiang began his priesthood here in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
After a civil process, it was determined in the courts that the accusations made against Fr. Jiang were without merit. In accordance with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, Fr. Jiang was returned to public ministry, with all of his priestly faculties and, as such, has my support as he moves forward in his priestly ministry.
I understand fully the concern that parents have for their children and I would not place any of you or your children in a potentially harmful situation. Fr. Jiang is a good man and a good priest, and I pray that we may all follow Christ’s example of treating our neighbor as we ourselves would want to be treated, including abstaining from gossip and character assassination toward any of our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Parishioners of St. Gabriel said the church will hold a town hall-style meeting to give members an opportunity to voice any concerns. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 31st and Archbishop Carlson is expected to attend.