SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests [Chicago IL]
April 15, 2022
By Mark Belenchia
A Franciscan brother, Paul West, 62, who was the subject of a major AP News investigation for his abuse of three young boys in Mississippi has been convicted of the 1990s abuse of La Jarvis Love. On Wednesday, April 13, 2022, a jury found him guilty of sexually abusing a student at St. Francis of Assisi School in the 1990s.
The Leflore County jury spent less than an hour deciding West’s fate. The verdict was loud and clear, guilty of one count of sexual battery and one count of gratification of lust, the Greenwood Commonwealth reported. West was accused of sexually abusing La Jarvis Love, now 39. Circuit Judge Ashley Hines sentenced West to 30 years on the first count and 15 years on the second count, to be served consecutively. Love began crying when the verdict was read.
Our hearts go out to La Jarvis Love and his family members Joshua Love, and brother Raphael, for their courage and conviction in holding those responsible for the horrific abuse they endured. These men grew up together and encountered West in the 1990s, when West was a teacher and principal at St. Francis School in Greenwood, Mississippi from July 1993 until October 1998.
Despite having been informed of the abuse allegations, the Franciscans allowed Brother West to teach 4th and 5th graders at St. John Nepomucene Catholic School in the Green Bay Diocese until at least 2010. Brother West was eventually arrested in August of 2020 in Outagamie County, Wisconsin for the charges that he was convicted on this week.
The abuse that the Love experienced was awful enough, but what makes this story so much worse is how he and his family were treated by Catholic officials in the aftermath of that abuse. Meager settlements were offered to all three victims on the condition that they sign non-disclosure agreements, a stipulation that violated the USCCB’s 2002 Dallas charter. We find it deplorable that the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi, settled sexual abuse cases in 2006 for an average amount of $250,000 to 19 victims, 17 of whom were white, while the total compensation paid La Jarvis and Joshua both was only $30,000. Raphael declined the offer.
Adding insult to injury, we find it deplorable that the Diocese of Jackson is so quick to issue a response to the conviction of Paul West, during a holy week, to paint a picture of cooperation with investigators and appear transparent and supportive to victims. It is well documented that the Diocese of Jackson and the Franciscan Order knew of Paul West and his criminal behavior but did nothing to stop him from teaching 5th graders in WI for 11 more years after they discovered his crimes.
Love and his family members were denied the opportunity to have a normal healthy childhood by Br. West. They were further harmed after coming forward as adults by the Church leadership.
We are hopeful that the wheels of justice attain some closure to a lifetime of fear, doubt, and shame. Victims deserve to be heard and understood as to the magnitude of injustice they have endured.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)