Lawsuit: Church pressured victims into unfair settlements
Two impoverished Mississippi men who say they were sexually assaulted by Franciscan missionaries filed a federal lawsuit Thursday claiming that Catholic officials pressured them into signing settlements that paid them little money and required them to remain silent about the alleged abuse.
The lawsuit, filed in New York, claims the church officials drew up the agreements a year ago to prevent the men from telling their stories or going to court — a violation of a 2002 promise by American bishops to abandon the use of nondisclosure agreements, as part of an effort to end the cover-up of sexual abuse within the church.
“The confidentiality provisions contained in the disputed agreements were intended to silence” the two men “in direct contradiction” to the U.S. Catholic Church’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the lawsuit says.
The suit was filed by two cousins, La Jarvis Love, of Senatobia, Mississippi, and Joshua Love, of Greenwood, Mississippi, black men from the Mississippi Delta, both 36 years old.
The men say they were repeatedly abused by Franciscan brothers Paul West and the late Don Lucas while they were enrolled in a Catholic grade school in Greenwood, Mississippi.
The accusations made by the Love cousins and a third relative, Joshua’s younger brother, Raphael, were first reported by The Associated Press in August.
West, who voluntarily left the Franciscan order and lives in Appleton, Wisconsin, did not return a call seeking comment. The Rev. James G. Gannon, leader of the Wisconsin Franciscans, and Stephen J. Carmody, an attorney for the Jackson Diocese, also did not return messages seeking comment.
In the lawsuit, the Love cousins say West also abused them while on driving excursions from Mississippi to New York, where La Jarvis attended Camp Alvernia, a summer camp founded by the Franciscans in Centerport, New York. The lawsuit says West also abused them at a hotel in Manhattan……..read more
Source: AP News