ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–Archbishop Robert Carlson testified under oath Thursday, giving a deposition in a criminal case involving a subordinate priest accused of witness tampering and sexual misconduct with a minor girl.
The Lincoln County Prosecutor questioned Carlson behind closed doors at the Rigali Center in Shrewsbury, while protestors picketted on the sidewalk urging him to “tell the truth.”
“We’re told to speak the truth, and I think it’s a very sad day when I have to stand out here with a sign and beg my Archbishop to tell the truth,” said protestor Ellen Prendergast.
The criminal case centers around Father Joseph Jiang, a longtime Carlson associate, accused of four felony counts of sexual abuse against the girl, and accused of giving the victim’s family a check for $20,000.
Carlson is not accused of any criminal wrongdoing, but a separate civil lawsuit filed by the vicitm’s family, accuses Carlson of “attempted evidence tampering.” The suit claims Carlson asked the victim’s mother to give him the check. Instead, the parents reportedly turned it over to police, resulting in the witness tampering charge against Jiang. The Archdiocese has called the allegations that Carlson tried to retrieve the check “baseless.”
The Lincoln County Prosecutor has not commented on the deposition, and a statement released by the Archdiocese does not reveal any of the questions that were posed, nor Carlson’s responses.
Protestors outside the proceedings predicted Carlson would likely face questions about the check.
“Archbishop Carlson’s public relations person put out a statement saying that the charge that Carlson tried to tamper with evidence was baseless,” said David Clohessy of the survivor’s group SNAP, “That’s not saying it didn’t happen. ‘Baseless’ is a legal term which means there’s no legal basis to charge him.”
The group of half a dozen protestors was also concerned that Carlson might exercise his Fifth Ammendment right to avoid self incrimination and refuse to answer some questions during the deposition.
“He better not lie and he better give up his post as the leader of our church if this is the way he’s going to treat the people,” said Wendy Casagrande, “We’re the ones putting in the collection box. He’s going to be sorry, if he’s doing the wrong thing.”
The Archdiocese released a statement on the deposition:
“The Archdiocese of St. Louis understands and appreciates the interest in Archbishop Carlson’ s testimony regarding the criminal charges pending against Fr. Joseph Jiang.
“However, this process is in the hands of the Missouri court system and it is important that we allow the process to unfold there where allegation and hypothetical can be sorted out as fact or fiction. The Archbishop’ s sworn deposition given today to prosecutors is consistent with the archdiocese’s willingness to cooperate fully with authorities in these matters.
“The archdiocese regularly asks anyone with reports of abuse by Fr. Jiang or any other member of clergy or church personnel to come forward. Likewise, we continue to pray for all parties connected to this case and for the safety and dignity of children everywhere.”