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

Published 8:27 am Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Then, late in 2017, when the news was full of stories about comedian-actor Bill Cosby and the sexual abuse charges he faced, La Jarvis decided it was time to tell someone about West. “I was just sitting here looking at my children,” he said, recalling the moment when he picked up the phone and notified officials at St. Francis of Assisi School.

After making the call, La Jarvis was referred to Gannon, who traveled to Mississippi to meet him at his home. And before long, Gannon was sending him money for therapy and transportation to see a therapist.

After a notice about La Jarvis’s allegation was published in the St. Francis Church bulletin, Joshua stepped forward with his accusations about West and Lucas.

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Then La Jarvis, during a phone call with Raphael, learned that his younger cousin had reported his alleged abuse two decades earlier.

That’s the first time, the three Love men said, that they realized their family had been targeted — that all three of them had been abused.

For Joshua, the realization was especially painful, he said, because he understood that his years of silence had led to his younger brother’s abuse, contributing to Raphael’s life of tragedy.

“That’s a dagger in the heart,” Joshua said, breaking down.

Of the three Love men, Raphael alone turned down the offer of a settlement from the Franciscans.

He told the AP that Gannon had also offered him $15,000, but that he rejected the deal because he needs more to hire a criminal lawyer willing to argue that he deserves a new trial — based on the fact he was tried as an adult, even though he was a juvenile who’d suffered multiple traumatic events.

Law enforcement officials in at least four jurisdictions, meanwhile, are reviewing the sexual abuse allegations against West made by La Jarvis, Joshua and Raphael.

They include the Mississippi attorney general’s office; the district attorney’s office in Leflore County, which includes Greenwood; the district attorney’s office in Milwaukee County, which includes Franklin, headquarters of the Wisconsin Franciscans; and the district attorney’s office in Outagamie County, Wisconsin, which includes West’s Appleton home and locations where the Loves say he molested them.

Milwaukee District Attorney John T. Chisholm would not discuss details of his review but said his office is devoting more attention to sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, in part because the Vatican has yet to take specific measures to address the issue.