Two cousins from Mississippi have filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Church, after they say they were forced to accept cheaper settlements in their cases regarding abuse they suffered as children.
La Jarvis Love and his cousin, Joshua Love, filed the lawsuit last week in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the Chrsitian Post reports.
The men claimed former Franciscan missionaries, Paul West and the late Don Lucas, abused them while the children attended a Catholic school in Mississippi.
The men also said West abused them while he drove them to New York for a summer camp and while they stayed in a hotel in Manhattan.
According to the Washington Post, the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi offered a settlement of about $15,000 to each cousin to remain silent about the alleged abuse.
In 2002, Catholic Church bishops said they would stop using nondisclosure settlements.
“The confidentiality provisions contained in the disputed agreements were intended to silence” the two men “in direct contradiction” to the U.S. Catholic Church’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the lawsuit says.
John F. Hawkins, a Mississippi attorney who also represents the Love cousins, said: “These guys have never received anything resembling justice. I’m hoping this lawsuit will bring these matters to light and provide them with a full measure of justice.”
The lawsuit says that a Franciscan leader and a victim assistance coordinator for the Jackson diocese met with Love and “encouraged him to initially settle his claims for $10,000.”
Love rejected the initial offer, which was raised to $15,000.
La Jarvis said he also met with the diocese and was told that he “would have to get a lawyer” if he wanted more settlement money.
“Well, we don’t have lawyers. We felt like we had to take what we could.”
Settlements for sexual abuse cases in the Catholic Church usually settle for upwards of thousands of dollars. In 2006, the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi, settled a case of 19 victims for $5 million, with an average payout of about $250,000 per victim.
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