The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) issued an apology to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis and two of its priests: Father Joseph Jiang, and the late Mgr. Joseph D. Pins. The group admitted that allegations against the two men were false, releasing a statement, the group declared, “The SNAP defendants never want to see anyone falsely accused of a crime. Admittedly, false reports of clergy sexual abuse do occur.”

SNAP, which has outed a number of abusive Catholic priests and religious the group said, “The SNAP defendants have no personal knowledge as to the complaints against Father Joseph Jiang and acknowledge that all matters and claims against Father Jiang have either been dismissed or adjudicated in favor of Father Jiang.” The statement read, “SNAP acknowledges that false claims of clergy sexual abuse injure those clerics falsely accused and the Roman Catholic Church.”

Fr. Joseph Jiang

According to the archdiocese, the apology is part of a settlement reached with SNAP with reference to a defamation lawsuit filed by Father Jiang in 2015. Monsignor Pins was ordained in 1970 and have served as rector of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis for 13 years at the time of his death in 2015.

Monsignor Pins was named in a civil lawsuit that accused the St. Louis archdiocese and Archbishop Robert Carlswon of allegedly covering up abuse supposedly committed by a priest in 2012. The priest was wrongly accused of the molestation of a teenage girl. According to the lawsuit, both Archbishop Carlson and Msgr. Pins had ignored requests to reassign the priest.

Father Jiang was an associate pastor at the St. Louis cathedral basilica when he was alleged to have sexually molested a 15-year-old girl who attended Mass there with her family. In 2013, a judge dismissed the criminal case against the priest after prosecutors could not prove that Fr. Jiang was ever alone with the girl at her home, which was where the abuse allegedly occurred. In 2014, Jiang was charged with allegedly molesting a young boy. However, the charge was dropped in 2015. 

Jiang filed a defamation lawsuit in 2015 against the boy’s parents and SNAP in an effort to clear his name. According to court records, he contended that “the boy had been coached to falsely accuse an innocent man.” SNAP was also accused of a “shameless smear campaign” that “destroyed the life of a promising young man and priest.”

As part of the settlement of the suit, SNAP issued the apology.

“SNAP apologizes,” it said, “for any false or inaccurate statements related to the complaints against Father Joseph Jiang that it or its representatives made which in any way disparaged Fr Joseph Jiang, Archbishop Robert Carlson, Mgr Joseph D. Pins and the Archdiocese of St Louis.”

Last month, a federal judge dismissed Jiang’s lawsuit without prejudice, which means that the lawsuit may still be re-filed in future. Jiang’s lawyer, Neil Bruntrager, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the priest intends to do so. 
 



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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