Judge Cancels Contempt Hearing of Orange Bishop
Tod Brown Could Have Faced Jail Time If Judge Ruled That He Helped Priest Violate Court Order to Testify in Sex-Abuse Case

Orange County Register
November 29, 2007

Bishop Tod Brown no longer faces contempt charges, which could have resulted in jail time for the highest-ranking Catholic official in Orange County.

A contempt hearing scheduled for next week part of sex-abuse litigation between four women and the Diocese of Orange has been dismissed by a judge. Though the cases were settled for a combined $6.7 million in October, the contempt hearing was set to go forward Monday.

But in a statement today, Brown called the settlements "but one measure of our sincere regret for the events of the past."

"Moreover, they represent my own commitment to preventing events such as these from ever happening again," he added in a prepared statement.

Venus Soltan, one of the lawyers who represented the women, said the hearing would have implicated Brown regarding past sex-abuse cases in the diocese.

"The Bishop is the CEO of the diocese," Soltan said. "He is responsible for what employees under him have done. I had hoped the public can see through this hearing how many claims of sex abuse the diocese has tried to hide over the years."

The contempt proceeding was part of pretrial motions in the scheduled trial of one of the women who settled for $6.7 million.

Christina Ruiz, now 27, alleged that she was sexually abused by then-coach Jeff Andrade when she attended Mater Dei High School for two years, starting in 1995. Andrade, who no longer works at Mater Dei, admitted to having sex with Ruiz, according to his deposition in the case.

Lawyers representing Ruiz filed a contempt motion against Brown, alleging that he sent Monsignor John Urell who at one time vetted sex-abuse claims against the diocese out of the country for psychological treatment. Urell broke down during a deposition of the case, and the women's lawyers were unable to ask him detailed questions about how the diocese handled such complaints.


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