Alleged abuse victims sue Catholic Church, say they were pressured into taking unfair settlement

The Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, located in Jackson, Mississippi. | Facebook/Roman Catholic Diocese of Jackson

Two cousins from Mississippi who say they were abused by two Catholic clergy have filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Church, arguing that they were pressured into accepting cheaper settlements.

La Jarvis Love and his cousin, Joshua Love, filed the lawsuit on Nov. 21 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, The Associated Press reported.

According to the lawsuit, the Love cousins, both 36 years old, were allegedly abused by former Franciscan brothers Paul West and the late Don Lucas as children while enrolled at a Catholic school in Mississippi.

They were also allegedly abused by West while being driven up to New York for a summer camp, including while staying at a hotel in Manhattan.

Both cousins separately reported their abuse claims to the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi, which offered a settlement of around $15,000 each in return for keeping silent about the abuse, the AP said.

This total stood in contrast to other amounts doled out by the diocese, including about $5 million to 19 abuse victims in 2006, or an average of $250,000 per victim.

“These guys have never received anything resembling justice,” said John F. Hawkins, a Mississippi attorney representing the Love cousins, as reported by the AP. “I’m hoping this lawsuit will bring these matters to light and provide them with a full measure of justice.”

In February, the Roman Catholic Church held a summit at the Vatican that featured around 200 church leaders from across the world to address the ongoing problem of clergy sexual abuse crimes.

Titled “The Protection of Minors in the Church,” Pope Francis gave introductory remarks at the summit, demanding that church leaders find “concrete” solutions to the problem.

“I wanted to consult you, patriarchs, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, and religious superiors and leaders, so that together we might listen to the Holy Spirit and, in docility to his guidance, hear the cry of the little ones who plead for justice,” Francis said.

“The holy people of God looks to us, and expect from us not simple and predictable condemnations, but concrete and effective measures to be undertaken. We need to be concrete.”

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