California bishop faces contempt charge
Los Angeles, Oct. 10, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Bishop Tod Brown of Orange,California, has entered a not-guilty plea on contempt-of-court chargesstemming from a lawsuit involving sexual abuse by diocesan clergy.
Plaintiffs'lawyers in the sex-abuse suit had asked the judge to hold Bishop Brownin contempt because the bishop approved a move to send a key diocesanofficial out of the country before that official completed histestimony in the connection with the case.
Althoughthe lawsuit was settled last week, Judge Gail Andler surprised manylegal observers by moving forward with the contempt proceedings.
Ifconvicted of contempt, Bishop Brown could face a prison sentence.Hearings in the case are expected to take place in December.
PeterCallahan, the attorney for Bishop Brown, told reporters that the bishopwanted to fight the contempt charges, even after the case was closed,in order to "clear the bishop's name." The attorney said that Brown hadhoped that he would "have the opportunity to exonerate himself bytelling the truth but he didn't get the opportunity" in the course ofthe lawsuit brought by the abuse victims.
Earlierin the month, Callahan had said that the contempt charges were merely astalling tactic, employed by lawyers for the plaintiffs in the abuselawsuit to postpone the court proceedings. He said Bishop Brown waseager to go to trial in the case. Just hours later the dioceseannounced an out-of-court settlement in which the diocese will paynearly $7 million in damages to the plaintiffs.
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