Motion Filed to Hold Bishop in Contempt
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Attorneys for a woman who alleges sexualabuse by a lay teacher at a Roman Catholic high school asked a judgeWednesday to hold the bishop of the Diocese of Orange in contempt ofcourt.
The motion, filed in Orange County Superior Court in SantaAna, alleges that Bishop Tod D. Brown sent a key church official toCanada for unspecified medical treatment one week after a judge orderedhim to complete a sworn deposition in the case.
Plaintiff'sattorneys had stopped an earlier deposition by Monsignor John Urellafter he became distraught. According to the filing, Orange CountySuperior Court Judge Gail Andler ordered Urell to complete histestimony at a hearing on Aug. 30, but Urell left the country on Sept.6.
Urell's testimony is critical to the plaintiff's case becausehe was responsible for handling all allegations of sexual abuse againstthe diocese, said John Manly, the plaintiff's attorney. He was alsoexpected to testify at trial, which is scheduled to begin next month.
Brown,who was deposed in the same case last week, said Urell went to theSouthdown Institute in Ontario, Canada, for medical treatment. Browntestified that he made the decision to send Urell out of the countryalthough he knew Urell "had given a deposition and was going to becalled back for further deposition."
Urell's attorney, Patrick Hennessey, did not immediately return a phone message left after business hours.
Brown'sattorney, Peter Callahan, called the filing by the plaintiff'sattorneys a "bullying tactic" and said that Urell's illness was seriousand legitimate.
According to its Web site, the SouthdownInstitute offers "residential and outpatient psychological treatmentand spiritual guidance to clergy and vowed religious."
VenusSoltan, a plaintiff's attorney, said she believes the diocese wanted tosuppress Urell's testimony because of his extensive knowledge of sexualabuse allegations, including four pending cases that involve allegedmolestation at Mater Dei High School.
"It is just one more in along line of things where they're trying to hide the facts," she said."Urell knows too much and they don't want him to talk."
A hearing on the motion is set for Oct. 18, but attorneys expect it will be moved up.
Thelawsuit was filed by a 26-year-old woman who alleges that lay teacherand coach Jeff Andrade had sex with her multiple times when she was a16-year-old student at Mater Dei.
Andrade has admitted in a deposition to having sex with the student. He was fired in 1997, but police didn't file charges.
TheDiocese of Orange settled about 90 cases of sexual abuse in 2004 for$100 million, the largest clergy abuse settlement at the time. Thecurrent case is the first to be filed since that global settlement.
Ina related development, police in Bakersfield said they have no recordsindicating they investigated sexual abuse allegations against Brownhimself that date back more than 40 years.
Brown, thehighest-ranking church official for Orange County Catholics, saidduring the same deposition last week that he was falsely accused in1997 of molesting a young boy in the mid-1960s.
He said aninternal investigation by the Diocese of Fresno, where he worked at thetime of the alleged molestation, turned up no evidence to support theclaims. The Diocese of Orange said last week that the internal reporthad been handed over to Kern County prosecutors, who declined to presscharges.
Kern County District Attorney Edward R. Jagels said hehad a "faint recollection" of the case, adding he forwarded it to theBakersfield Police Department for investigation.
But Bakersfieldpolice can't find any paperwork on the case and the former lieutenantin charge of the sex crimes unit does not recall it, said Bakersfieldpolice Sgt. Greg Terry.
(This version CORRECTS timing of Urell's departure to one week, sted one day, per court documents.)
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