UPDATED 11:52 AM PT — Friday, November 22, 2019
Top catholic leaders at the Diocese of Jackson apologized after accusations surfaced about the church paying two men to keep quiet about their claims of sexual abuse by church elders. The people behind the accusations are cousins La Jarvis Love and Joshua Love. They filed a lawsuit in New York on Thursday, accusing Catholic officials of pressuring them to sign settlement deals for $15,000 about one year ago under the condition that they would never mention their sexual assault claims again.
According to reports, sexual abuse settlement deals around the same time that were paid by the same Catholic Church gave each sexual assault survivor more than $250,000. This all comes after the cousins said they were repeatedly abused by Franciscan brothers Paul West and Don Lucas as children while they were enrolled in a Catholic grade school in Greenwood, Mississippi.
Specifically, legal prosecutors took issue with the claim about the non-disclosure agreement because it is a direct violation of the U.S. Catholic Church’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The charter’s purpose was to end settlement deals that are typically used to cover-up child abuse.
Once accusations first came to light earlier this year, Catholic officials later published the assault claims and accused members on their website.
“The Diocese of Jackson is committed to ensuring those in our care especially children and vulnerable adults are safe from abuse,” stated Catholic Diocese of Jackson bishop Joseph Kopacz.
Church officials dismissed claims the two men were paid small settlements because of their race or socioeconomic situation, however, reports strongly suggest race and status probably played a role.