The Franciscan Friars, a Catholic religious order, not only paid a paltry sum to two black men who’d been abused as children, but made them promise to keep their mouths shut about it.
That’s according to an investigative report by the Associated Press, in which La Jarvis Love said the Rev. James G. Gannon, leader of a Wisconsin-based group of Franciscans, offered him $15,000 to settle his claim that he was abused as a child by one of the Franciscan brothers at the elementary school he attended as a child, St. Francis of Assisi School in Greenwood, Miss.
Love’s cousin, Joshua Love, said he too was abused as a child and that he also took the $15,000 deal.
Both men are black and from Greenwood, Miss., located in one of the poorest regions in the nation, the Mississippi Delta. And the AP notes that settlements for Catholic child sex abuse survivors nationally have averaged between $250,000 to $500,000 per person. The Loves’ case comes to light amid long-time promises by the Catholic Church to be transparent about decades of child sex abuse within its ranks.
But when asked if race or poverty played a role in the lowball offer that was made to the Loves, Gannon told the AP, “Absolutely not.”
Joshua Love, who said he regrets taking the deal, disagreed, telling AP: “They felt they could treat us that way because we’re poor and we’re black.”
“We felt like we had to take what we could,.” La Jarvis Love said.
Gannon himself conceded to the AP:
“We’ve hurt them tremendously and no amount of money would ever account for what happened to them.”
Joshua Love told the AP that as a child he was given the choice by his abuser between being physically beaten or sexually molested.
“He gave me the option to whup me or play with my penis,” he said.
One of the Franciscan brothers named by the Loves declined to answer questions from the AP. The other died in an apparent suicide.
Gannon told the AP the Franciscan don’t intend to enforce the non-disclosure agreements.