Associated Press [New York NY]
May 12, 2022
Mississippi prosecutors have dropped a second set of charges against a former Franciscan friar who was convicted last month of sexually abusing a student during the 1990s at a Catholic school.
Paul West, 62, received a 45-year sentence on April 13 and is in the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility.
He had been scheduled to go on trial Tuesday on charges of sexually abusing another student during the 1990s at St. Francis of Assisi School in Greenwood.
The Mississippi attorney general’s office submitted an order dropping the second set of charges because he had been convicted on the first set, the Greenwood Commonwealth reported. Circuit Judge Ashley Hines approved the order.
As first reported by The Associated Press in 2019, La Jarvis Love, now 39, and his cousin, Joshua Love, now 38, had accused West of numerous instances of sexual abuse while they were students at the school where West was a physical education teacher before becoming principal.
During a two-day trial last month, a Leflore County jury deliberated less than an hour before convicting West of one count of sexual battery and one count of gratification of lust against La Jarvis Love.
Both Loves testified of repeated abuse by West beginning when they were in the fourth grade. They testified the abuse occurred both at the school and on trips to New York and to Wisconsin, where the Franciscan Friars of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary are based. West was a member of the religious order.
A third man, Joshua Love’s younger brother, Raphael Love, also alleged that West sexually abused him. He reported the abuse to church authorities in 1998, after which West returned to Wisconsin and left the order. West has not been charged with abusing Raphael Love.
Gaunt and relying on a walker, West made no comment after he was convicted last month.
West had been held in Mississippi’s Leflore County Jail since September 2020, when he was extradited from his home state of Wisconsin to face charges. Shortly after being returned to Mississippi, he pleaded not guilty to all charges, including one count of sexual battery and one count of gratification of lust against Joshua Love — the charges that were dropped this month.