Most of this is just a teenage girl's fantasy.
... so said a commenter on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website, dismissing in the most brutal manner possible a teen-aged girl in Old Monroe, Missouri who claims to have been molested by a St. Louis priest, whose crime her parents insist Archbishop Carlson enabled and tried to cover up.
As I said before, this case has yet to go to trial (and I strongly suspect it never will, that it will now be plea bargained away). And while we don't know many things, nor can we pre-judge the guilt or innocence of the accused cleric, we do know some things for certain.
- The priest was a favorite of Archbishop Carlson's, actually living with the archbishop in the archbishop's mansion, and having been brought by Carlson to St. Louis from Saginaw, Michigan, where Carlson was last assigned.
- The priest became a very close friend of the alleged victim's family, and would often spend the night at the family's house - even though it was only an hour from his room in the archbishop's mansion.
- The parents became concerned about inappropriate contact between the priest and their 15-year-old daughter - stroking, physical displays of affection. When they confronted the priest about this, he stopped seeing the family, asked for a transfer from St. Louis for "personal reasons", but eventually ingratiated himself back into the family, visiting them frequently.
- The family claims that they discovered emails of a sexual nature the priest was secretly sending the daughter. If these emails actually exist, their content will be revealed in both the criminal and the civil trials - if either case comes to trial. Since the DA in Lincoln County is prosecuting this case, it is almost certain that these emails do in fact exist; a case like this would not be prosecuted on the victim's verbal claims alone, if the claims were not somehow substantiated with hard evidence.
- Speaking of hard evidence, the family claims that the priest tried to buy off their testimony against him with a $20,000 check, which he placed on the windshield of their car. The family also claims that Archbishop Carlson intervened to try to get this check back. The family took the check to the police. The check has led to an additional charge against the priest - tampering with a witness. The check must exist, or this additional charge would not have been raised by the prosecutor. (Incidentally, another Post-Dispatch commenter said the family is suing the archdiocese because they're in desperate financial straits and they need money - if that's their motivation, why didn't they keep a $20,000 check?)
- There is supposedly an eye-witness who saw the priest kiss and fondle the alleged victim.
So it really sounds as if this is anything but "a teenage girl's fantasy".
It seems much more like a tale of abuse and "depraved indifference" - to use a term from the lawsuit.
But I may be wrong. Perhaps Fr. Jiang has been falsely accused and the archbishop maligned.
I may be wrong about that. But I'm not wrong about this - "Super Catholics" have a "negative charism of discernment" as Mark Shea says. They always back the wrong horse. From Fr. Maciel to Fr. Corapi to Fr. Euteneur to Bishop Finn - if a clergyman is "orthodox", he's our guy and we're gonna go to the mat for him, regardless of the evidence.
Sadly, orthodoxy does not equal sinlessness. It doesn't for me, and I'm a worse person than any of the players in this drama. And it doesn't for priests or bishops.
To attack a 15-year-old girl for accusing an orthodox priest who happens to be your favorite and the archbishop's favorite, without regard to the facts - this is hardly something orthodox Catholics should be proud of. If we should refrain from prejudging this case, then that means we should suspend judgment against both the priest and the girl.
And let us pray, not for Fr. Jiang's "exoneration", as the Super-Catholics are suggesting we do, but for justice. Exoneration for Fr. Jiang if he's been falsely accused; conviction for Fr. Jiang if he is indeed guilty - and the full truth regarding his ordinary's participation in the crime.
|My photograph of a stained glass of Mary in the church at Old Monroe, Missouri|
Our Lady of Victory, Pray for us!