St. Louis priest charged with child sex crimes

Friday, April 18, 2014 | 5:50 p.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis priest previously accused of felony child endangerment and witness tampering in Lincoln County has been charged with first-degree sodomy involving another child.

On Friday, St. Louis prosecutors filed two felony counts of having deviate sexual intercourse against 31-year-old Rev. Xiu Hui "Joseph" Jiang. He is accused of twice forcing oral sex in a Catholic school bathroom on a male victim under 14 between July 2011 and August 2012.

In a statement on its website, the Archdiocese of St. Louis said it has revoked the priest's canonical privileges and that the abuse reported to a child safety hotline came from the family of a child who had previously complained of being bullied by classmates. The statement also said that over the past year, the family "has been pursuing a claim against the archdiocese related to their child being bullied by other students."

"The family had never claimed that their child was abused by a priest until this week," the statement said.

The previous charges against Jiang were dismissed in November 2013. A native of China, he was assigned as an associate pastor to the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis, where he lived with and was mentored by Archbishop Robert Carlson after spending time under his tutelage in Saginaw, Mich., where Carlson was bishop from 2005 to 2009.

Jiang, who was ordained in St. Louis in 2010, was accused of having improper contact with a teenage girl and of giving the family a $20,000 check for their silence. The family lived in Old Monroe but worshipped at the stately cathedral in St. Louis' Central West End neighborhood.

The girl's family filed a lawsuit against the archdiocese and Carlson in 2013 that is pending. Archdiocese spokeswoman Katie Pesha didn't immediately respond to an Associated Press request for comment Friday.

Jiang's attorney, Paul D'Agrosa, said the new allegations involve a student at the St. Louis the King elementary school at the Cathedral Basilica. "We believe the accusation to be false," he said.

Jiang's first arrest prompted a show of support from parishioners who organized under the banner of "Friends of Father Joseph." Reacting to his arrest Thursday, the victim advocacy group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests called that stance both premature and harmful.

"We hope that in the future, parishioners will be more reluctant to immediately and hurtfully express public support for an accused predator priest," St. Louis organizer Barbara Dorris said. "We hope they will avoid rushing to judgment and show their concern for alleged child molesters privately, not publicly."

Lucy Hannegan, who founded the pro-Jiang group in 2012, said in an interview that its roughly 100 members remain "strong and steadfast" in their support.

"To do what he's accused of is inconsistent with his spirit," she said. "He's no more guilty than Jesus. ... He would never hurt anyone."

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