ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Criminal charges against a St. Louis priest accused of molesting a teenage girl in northeast Missouri have been dropped.
Reverend Joseph Jiang was charged in 2012 with child endangerment and witness tampering. A circuit judge in Lincoln and Pike counties this week dismissed the child endangerment charges. The prosecutor in the case then filed for dismissal of the witness tampering charges.
“We’re relieved, not surprised. Just relieved and very, very happy,” says Lucy Hannigan who heads the group Friends of Father Joseph. “We’re celebrating because we’ve always believed in Father Jiang’s innocence and always knew he was not guilty of any crimes likes that.”
David Clohessy with the Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests (SNAP) had a much different reaction to the news.
“It’s very, very disappointing,” he said. “I mean, here you’ve got a case where a young girl and her family did everything right and reported the abuse promptly and the prosecutor had tons of evidence and yet a judge dismisses the case.”
A civil suit filed by the girl’s family will still move ahead. For supporters of Jiang, a separate effort is underway.
“We’re hoping now to get his name fully cleared to know that the whole truth will come out and to get him back into his active duty and hoping he comes back to the cathedral where he belongs,” Hannigan said.
Jiang has been on administrative leave from the St. Louis Archdiocese where he served as an associate pastor at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.
Clohessy and SNAP say they aren’t giving up their effort either.
“It simply means that it’s just now more important than ever that every single person’s who has saw or suspected crimes by Father Jiang has to step up to the plate,” Clohessy said.