August 27, 2019
By Michael Rezendes
A famed Catholic religious order settled sex abuse cases in recent months by secretly paying two black Mississippi men $15,000 each and requiring them to keep silent about their claims, The Associated Press has found.
The cash payments are far less than what other Catholic sex abuse survivors have typically received since the church’s abuse scandal erupted in the United States in 2002.
An official with the Franciscan Friars order denies the two men’s race or poverty had anything to do with the size of the settlements.
In one case, the Rev. James G. Gannon, leader of a group of Wisconsin-based Franciscan Friars, settled an abuse claim made by La Jarvis D. Love against another friar for $15,000, during a meeting at an IHOP restaurant where Gannon met with La Jarvis, his wife and their three small children.
“He said if I wanted more, I would have to get a lawyer and have my lawyer call his lawyer,” La Jarvis Love, 36, told the Associated Press. “Well, we don’t have lawyers. We felt like we had to take what we could.”
La Jarvis’s cousin, Joshua K. Love, 36, also settled his abuse claim for $15,000 — something he now regrets.
“They felt they could treat us that way because we’re poor and we’re black,” Joshua Love said of the settlements he and La Jarvis received.
Across the United States, settlements have ranged much higher. In 2006, the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, which includes Greenwood, settled lawsuits involving 19 victims— 17 of whom were white— for $5 million, with an average payment of more than $250,000 per victim.
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