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  Group Asks for Censure of Bishop
Supporters of Alleged Victims of Clergy Abuse Say Orange County Catholic Leader Has Mishandled Charges

By S.J. Cahn
The Daily Pilot [Newport Beach CA]
September 8, 2004

NEWPORT BEACH A support group for clergy abuse victims sent a letter to a Catholic lay group Tuesday, asking it to declare that Orange County Bishop Tod D. Brown violated the U.S. Bishops Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in a case involving a priest at a Balboa Peninsula church.

The letter, sent by members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, alleges that the diocese kept secret a $500,000 settlement with a victim of Msgr. Daniel Murray of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and failed to remove Murray from his position.

"As the largest support group for survivors for sexual abuse by clergy, we believe that the actions by Tod D. Brown and the Diocese of Orange are putting children in direct risk in the Diocese of Orange," the letter reads.

Among the two women who signed the letter was Corona del Mar resident Joelle Casteix, the group's Orange County spokeswoman, who says she was abused by a priest when she was in her teens. It was sent to the executive director of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and asks that it be forwarded to the group's National Review Board.

Bishops established the National Review Board two years ago to monitor how church leaders handle sex abuse cases.

The letter outlines three separate violations of the charter: that Murray remains in his post; that the settlement was kept secret for almost a year; and that the diocese refused to make the case public.

Fr. Joe Fenton, the diocese's spokesman, took issue with each of the points.

Murray is on "administrative leave," Fenton said, and is not allowed to act publicly as a priest, though he is still paid. He added that Murray has denied the charges.

A county review board is investigating the charges, which date back to September 2003, he added.

"This will be thoroughly investigated," Fenton said, adding that under church canon, Murray is considered innocent until proven guilty.

The settlement was not announced, Fenton said, at the request of the alleged victim and was done to stave off even higher costs had the case gone to trial.

Finally, Fenton denied that the diocese failed to make the case public, as it is supposed to, pointing out that no confidentiality agreement was signed.

Casteix said her group sent the letter so the bishop would receive a public censure for his actions.

She added that she did not believe Murray is removed fully from his duties.

"It is an affront to every survivor in Orange County and is morally repugnant," she said.

"We just want the bishop to live up to his word," she said.

Fenton said that, if the county review board find Murray guilty, he will be dismissed from his post.

 
 

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