SNAP apologizes to St. Louis Archdiocese, priests over false abuse claims

ST. LOUIS — The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests issued an apology to the Archdiocese of St. Louis and two of its priests, Father Joseph Jiang and the late Msgr. Joseph D. Pins.

The Nov. 27 apology was issued as part of a settlement with SNAP in a defamation lawsuit filed by Father Jiang in 2015, according to the archdiocese.

The SNAP defendants never want to see anyone falsely accused of a crime. Admittedly, false reports of clergy sexual abuse do occur,” said the apology, which was released by the archdiocese.

“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,” it said.

“SNAP acknowledges that false claims of clergy sexual abuse injure those clerics falsely accused and the Roman Catholic Church,” the apology added.

Msgr. Pins died of cancer June 17, 2015. Ordained in 1970, he had been rector of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis for 13 years at the time of his death.

The priest had been mentioned in a civil lawsuit that accused the archdiocese and St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of supposedly covering up for a priest accused in 2012, wrongly as it turned out, of molesting a teenage girl. The suit claimed the archbishop and Msgr. Pins ignored requests to reassign the priest.

Father Jiang was associate pastor at the cathedral basilica when allegations arose that he had molested a 15-year-old girl who attended Mass there with her family.

A judge dismissed the criminal case against Father Jiang in 2013 because prosecutors could not show the priest was ever alone with the girl at her home, where the alleged abuse supposedly took place. In 2014, Father Jiang was arrested and charged with molesting a young boy, but a year later, that charge also was dropped.

To clear his name, Father Jiang filed a defamation lawsuit in 2015 against the boy’s parents and SNAP, “contending that the boy had been coached to falsely accuse an innocent man,” according to court records. The lawsuit also accused SNAP of carrying out 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 Father Joseph Jiang, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, Msgr. Joseph D. Pins and the Archdiocese of St. Louis.”