Catholic abuse case settled cheaply in Mississippi Delta, but lifetimes of scars endure

Published 8:27 am Tuesday, August 27, 2019

La Jarvis recalls similar experiences. Once, he said, West took him into the men’s room at the school, took out his penis and told La Jarvis to hold it while he urinated.

“He was bold to do something in the open like that,” La Jarvis said, adding that West also showed him child pornography on a computer in his office.
“It was a grown man with a little boy. He was trying to make me think this is how it should be,” La Jarvis explained.

Sometime in 1995, when Joshua was in fifth grade and La Jarvis was in sixth, Lucas arrived at St. Francis. He began working as a cook and quickly took an interest in Joshua.

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In contrast to West’s aggression and violence, Lucas was gentle and reassuring, the cousins said. “He asked us questions about — like what’s Brother Paul doing to you all?” Joshua recalled.

Soon, however, Lucas was also having his way with Joshua.

The cousins say the abuse by West continued during summer excursions to Wisconsin, where the Greenwood Franciscans were based, and to Centerport, New York, the
site of a summer camp established by the Franciscans in the late 1800s.

During one of those trips, Joshua said, West was teaching him to float on his back in a motel swimming pool when he suddenly pushed his head under water. After he came up gasping, Joshua said, West threatened to drown him if he ever told anyone he was being sexually assaulted.

West drove the Love boys to Wisconsin, again alternating among them so they were never there together, to live with white, middle class families for a few weeks and escape their troubles back home.

La Jarvis remembers these trips fondly, even though, he said, West continued to molest him there. “I had a lot of good experiences in Wisconsin. Paul West was not one of them,” he said.

La Jarvis also said he treasures memories of a summer visit to Camp Alvernia, the Long Island summer camp established by the Franciscans, although he believes West drugged him and molested him on the way there and back.

For the long drive home to Greenwood, La Jarvis said, West brought Joshua along for the ride and, during a motel stop, told the boys he wanted to watch them having sex with each other.

“I don’t remember if we did,” La Jarvis said. “I don’t want to remember.”

‘An unpleasant fact’

In 1998 Raphael was in the fourth grade at St. Francis, and La Jarvis and Joshua were no longer students there. It was his turn, Raphael said, to work weekends at the compound — and be molested by West.

Unlike his older brother and his cousin, who waited until two years ago to report their alleged molestations, Raphael told his family and church authorities about West while the abuse was taking place.