ST. LOUIS • Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer on Monday set a March 27 trial date for a civil lawsuit in which a Lincoln County teenager and her family accused St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson of knowing a priest was a danger to children before the cleric was charged with molesting the teen in 2012.
The lawsuit was filed the following year in Lincoln County by the girl’s parents against Carlson and the Archdiocese of St. Louis after she told police the Rev. Xiu Hui “Joseph” Jiang, then an associate pastor at the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica in the Central West End, had molested her at her home in Old Monroe. Jiang was added as a defendant in the lawsuit last year.
The alleged victim was 16 at the time of the alleged abuse. Jiang was in his late 20s. Charges of child endangerment and witness tampering — Jiang had been accused of leaving a $20,000 check and an apology on a family’s car as hush money — were dismissed in 2013.
At a hearing Monday in Ohmer’s courtroom, Kenneth Chackes, a lawyer for the alleged victim, described a letter sent to Carlson from a man whose family became close to him after helping him emigrate to the United States from China. The letter was sent before Jiang was ordained in 2010 warning Carlson that Jiang was a threat to children because he suffered “deep psychological problems,” “faked a relationship of intimacy with his family” and “lacked maturity.”
Jiang’s lawyers denied those claims Monday and sought dismissal of the lawsuit, arguing the alleged acts did not occur on archdiocesan property and were not intended to inflict emotional distress.
Chackes said two of the alleged victim’s sisters observed Jiang molesting her at their Old Monroe home and another time kissing her on the mouth and touching her buttocks in the church rectory parking lot. He said Jiang also sent emails and text messages from an archdiocese-issued cellphone and computer “telling her how much he loved her and how much he wanted to be with her.”
After the lawsuit was filed in Lincoln County, it was sealed from public view before being transferred to Ohmer in St. Louis Circuit Court. It is unclear why the case is confidential. Ohmer on Monday further sealed psychological exams of the alleged victim and ordered the archdiocese to provide other records to the plaintiff — under seal. Despite the secrecy surrounding the case, the judge set three more open court hearings in St. Louis on the case before the two-week trial begins in March: those dates are Nov. 28, Jan. 3 and Feb. 27.
The archdiocese and its newspaper, The St. Louis Review, have said Jiang is a native of Shandong, China, and later attended St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. He served his supervised ministry at St. John the Baptist Parish in St. Paul. According to the lawsuit, Jiang was a deacon in Saginaw, Mich., when Carlson was bishop there, before he moved to St. Louis.