A Catholic religious order has recently faced scrutiny after it was revealed that they paid two Black victims a very small fraction of what white victims were paid in a sex abuse settlement.
According to the Associated Press, in the last few months, the Franciscan Friars settled sex abuse claims by discreetly paying two black Mississippi men $15,000 each in exchange for their silence. This is in stark contrast to the $250,000 that most white sex abuse victims were paid.
“He said if I wanted more, I would have to get a lawyer and have my lawyer call his lawyer,” 36-year-old La Jarvis Love told the Associated Press about his interaction with Rev. James Gannon, who leads a group of Wisconsin-based Franciscan Friars. “Well, we don’t have lawyers. We felt like we had to take what we could.”
His cousin, Joshua Love, also only settled his abuse claim for $15,000, which they both now regret. Joshua’s brother Raphael was also an alleged victim.
“They felt they could treat us that way because we’re poor and we’re black,” Love continued.
La Jarvis and Joshua Love both say they were repeatedly abused by Brother Paul West during the 1990s, while they were elementary school students at St. Francis of Assisi School in Greenwood.
In 2006, the Catholic Diocese of Jackson – which includes their hometown of Greenwood – settled lawsuits involving 19 victims, 17 of which were white, for a whopping $5 million, averaging a payout of $250,000 per victim.
Rev. Gannon concedes the settlements to the Love men pale in comparison to what most others received, but maintains the payout disparities were “absolutely not” related to race.
“We’ve hurt them tremendously and no amount of money would ever account for what happened to them,” Gannon said.