Congressman Bennie Thompson asks DOJ to investigate Catholic sex abuse settlement

Congressman Bennie Thompson has asked the Department of Justice to investigate settlements given to two victims of clergy abuse, saying in a letter that Catholic officials "exploited" the young men. 

Last August, cousins La Jarvis Love and Joshua Love told The Associated Press they were repeatedly abused by Brother Paul West during the 1990s, when they were elementary school students at St. Francis of Assisi School in Greenwood, Mississippi.

West's name is on the list of clergy members credibly accused of sexual abuse released by the Jackson Diocese last March. 

In a letter dated Feb. 20, Thompson outlined the abuse inflicted on La Jarvis, Joshua and Raphael Love by West and the $15,000 settlement La Jarvis and Joshua Love each received from the Catholic Church. 

Across the United States, settlements have ranged much higher. In 2006, the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, which includes Greenwood, settled lawsuits involving 19 victims — 17 of whom were white — for $5 million, with an average payment of more than $250,000 per victim.

The settlement, Thompson wrote, was "far less than what many other sex abuse victims have received through legal settlements with the Catholic church."

The Rev. James G. Gannon, leader of a group of Wisconsin-based Franciscan Friars, settled the abuse claim made by La Jarvis Love during a meeting at an IHOP restaurant with his wife and three children. Love was offered $15,000. 

"He said if I wanted more, I would have to get a lawyer and have my lawyer call his lawyer," La Jarvis Love, 36, told The Associated Press. "Well, we don't have lawye...

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