John Urell Shown to Be Even More of an Asshole to Sex-Abuse Victims Than First Thought

By Gustavo Arellano in Ex Cathedra
Orange County Weekly
March 3, 2009

[See also other articles by Gustavo Arellano.]

In 1986, after the death of founding Diocese of Orange Bishop William Johnson, a young John Urell penned a moving tribute in the Los Angeles Times to the man whom set the diocese on its proud pedo-priest-protecting path. Urell--then the secretary to Johnson, now pastor at St. Timothy in Laguna Niguel, always comforter to the comforted--recalled how Johnson asked him to volunteer at a soup kitchen in Wilmington. "Bishop's point was that dignity must be restored and opportunities found for those whose lives had been devastated by mental illness, poverty and unemployment," Urell wrote. "In his quiet and inspired way he worked hard to get me to change my bourgeois mentality. Thanks be to God he did."

Urell at the moment he went cuckoo

Too bad Johnson didn't teach Urell to act the same way with clerical sex-abuse victims, but shepherding to them has never exactly been in vogue at Marywood. Instead, through the antiseptic that is journalists and lawsuits, Urell has been shown again and again to be almost as much of an asshole to sex-abuse victims as the infamous Monsignor Lawrence Baird . If it wasn't him lying to victims about the fate of their rapists, it was Urell not only not believing their stories, but insulting them for daring to speak the Truth.

The latest proof can be found in a deposition taken Dec. 18 of last year for the most recent settled civil suit against pedo-priest Denis Lyons . Plaintiff's attorney V. James DeSimone took the deposition of a previous Lyons victim (the Weekly doesn't reveal the name of sex-abuse victims without their consent) whose younger brother and himself were molested by the pedo-priest at St. John the Baptist in Costa Mesa in the late 1970s. In 1994, the two brothers contacted Urell to speak about their abuse and ask that the diocese dump Lyons.

Urell met with the brothers at Gisler Park in Costa Mesa. The victim testified under oath that Urell told the two that they "were telling lies," that the victims were trying to "deface" the church and "hurt" Lyons. "Goddamn it, let's get on" with forgetting the episode, Urell told the violated brothers.

Infuriated, the brothers then set up a meeting the following year with then-Bishops Norman McFarland and Michael Driscoll, in which the heads of the Orange diocese told the brothers that "they were going to take care what needed to be taken care of." Their solution? Send Lyons off to the St. Luke's Institute, a notorious haven for pedo-priests that counts as alumni Michael Harris and Eleuterio Ramos. Although McFarland and his hierarchy assured the brothers Lyons would be gone, he returned after eight months as if nothing had happened.

The two brothers would go on to be part of the $100 million in settled sex-abuse cases that Tod D. Brown signed off on in 2005. Urell, of course, would famously crack for the guilt he felt destroying so many lives--yet he still has a job. Let's see the Friends of Monsignor John try to spin this latest Urell revelation... E-mail: GARELLANO@OCWEEKLY.COM


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