Catholic Diocese of Jackson needs to help DA investigate sex abuse charges in Greenwood

As an advocate and a survivor in Mississippi, I think I am qualified to speak to the history of the Diocese of Jackson and the Catholic Church and their handling of sexual abuse claims.

In a previous opinion column, Mr. Frank Vollor writes with much conviction as to what took place in 1998 when Raphael Love reported that Br. Paul West had molested him. Mr. Vollor writes of personally making a report to the Greenwood Police Department. Yet it was reported by the Associated Press that Chief Ray Moore said that he could not find any record of a department investigation in 1998. Chief Moore also stated that his department could not find the original report that Mr. Vollor claims he made. It also must be pointed out that the copy of the police report that is on the Jackson Diocese website has no case number assigned to it.

In my opinion, the Loves have been mistreated and marginalized by Fr. Gannon, the Franciscan prelate, and were not treated properly by the diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator, Valerie McClellan. In 2002, the diocese agreed to the terms of the Dallas Charter which states that no secret settlements are to be used when dealing with survivors of clergy abuse. Fr. Gannon and Valerie McClellan violated that clause. The paltry settlement that the Loves received is outrageous as well. The Franciscans in Greenwood are part of the Catholic Church and are there under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Jackson. The Catholic people of St. Francis in Greenwood should expect the same treatment that other parishioners in the diocese receive.

Mr. Vollor points out that the diocese hired an independent psychologist in 1998 to conduct workshops at the school to teach the children about boundaries. Vollor goes on to say “These workshops where Joshua Love attended school did not reveal any further allegations of abuse”.  I would like to point out to Mr. Vollor that in 1998 Joshua had been long gone from St. Francis School. Joshua had been expelled from school by his principal and his accused rapist Br. Paul West for ‘acting out’. I wonder why Joshua would have been acting out? Also it could be reasonable to believe that boundary discussions in 1998 would be a couple of years late for Joshua.

I also disagree with Mr. Vollor’s last statement that the Catholic Church has been “aggressive and pursued the allegations compassionately.” It has been reported by multiple news outlets that Br. Paul West moved back to Wisconsin and in 1999 started teaching 5th grade at a Catholic School in Little Chute WI. It has also been reported that Br. Paul West was subjected to a psychological examination in St. Louis in 1998 before going back to WI to teach. What did the evaluation state about Br. Paul West? West taught school in Little Chute from 1999 until 2010. If the Catholic Church was “compassionate” and “aggressive,” shouldn’t the p...

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  • Richard Kensinger, MSW
    commented 2019-09-28 08:12:26 -0500
    As reported in today’s Altoona Mirror, the Rev. David R Rizzo is suspended due to sex abuse allegations. This makes now 53 of 57 accused are clergy members in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, PA. Interesting that he was suspended in 2016 as well. So far, no comment from the Diocese about this discrepancy.

    This news above and from the Mirror continues to elucidate that sex abuse continues to be committed by clergy despite the Church indicating that much of the abuse occurred decades ago. The Church “speaks with forked tongue” to borrow a phrase from our original peoples.
    Rich, MSW

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