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ST. LOUIS (ChurchMilitant.com) - A federal judge is ruling a St. Louis priest was the victim of defamation by an anti-sex abuse advocacy group that conspired against him.
On August 22, US. District Judge Carol E. Jackson wrote in a court order that the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) made public accusations that "were false and that they did not conduct any inquiry into the truth or falsity of these public statements, but instead made these statements negligently and with reckless disregard for the truth."
Father Xiu Hui "Joseph" Jiang of St. Louis sued SNAP last year after the sex abuse claims they litigated against him were suddenly dropped. Father Jiang says the leaders in SNAP launched a "smear campaign" against him in the media.
In June, the court ordered SNAP to produce documentation substantiating its accusations against Fr. Jiang. Its refusal to comply with the judge's discovery order resulted in Jackson's ruling this week in favor of the priest.
SNAP claimed the reason it refused to produce the documentation as ordered was what the judge called a "rape-crisis-center privilege," which didn't apply in this case. The judge concluded that SNAP had no legal defense for not producing the evidence beyond "repeated assertions of a nonexistent privilege."
Jackson's order stated, "SNAP defendants' defiance of the Court's orders and refusal to provide documents and information in discovery has impaired plaintiff's ability to litigate his claims against them."
The organization says it will appeal the decision, but Peter Joy, a Washington University law professor, believes the group has little chance of winning. "I think it's going to be tough for them to win on appeal. At this point, they've lost … by basically failing to comply with the judge's discovery order."
SNAP has been ordered by the court to pay Fr. Jiang's "attorney's fees and expenses as a result of the SNAP defendants' failure to comply with the order compelling discovery."