Not surprisingly, the Diocese of Orange in Southern California settled in the sex abuse case that involved a former coach at Mater Dei High School, as well as a few others:
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange agreed Friday to pay nearly $7 million to settle four molestation lawsuits, including one against a former Mater Dei High School coach scheduled to go to trial next week.
What I find disheartening is that earlier cooperation and good fiath in settlement likely would have cost the Diocese much less money. Instead, I see the hubris of Bishop Tod Brown as being the stumbling block that rasied the ante in this matter. Jeff Andrade, the coach at Mater Dei who was accused of having the sexual relationship with the minor girl, admitted it in deposition, so there was no question of "did he or didn't he?" Said the plaintiff in the case:
“The reason (the diocese) settled my case is because they had no choice,” she said. “If they had settled this three years ago, it would have never come to this. … They don’t care about victims.”
But the "Diocese" - read, Tod Brown - wanted to try to fight this through. During the plaintiff's deposition, she was questioned for nearly six hours by diocesan lawyers about her sex life. Monsignor Urell, after a much shorter length of time, broke down during his, left the deposition, and was sent shortly thereafter for "psychological treatment" to Canada.
Diocese attorney Peter Callahan said the settlement was not an indication that the diocese, which owns the private Santa Ana school, was culpable for the abuse.
“I wanted to go to trial and exonerate Mater Dei High School,” he said.
Ah, Peter - the problem is that a jury would exonerate Mater Dei. It would even likely exonerate the Diocese of Orange. But those institutions are represented by a face in this matter - one Tod Brown. And it would be unlikely that a jury would exonerate a person as vilified as him.
Bishop Tod Brown said in a statement: “The settlement of these civil cases represents the moral obligation for the church for such behavior by adults in positions of responsibility. I sincerely hope that it will enable the women who brought these actions to begin the process of healing and reconciliation.”
The settlement in these civil cases represents the Church with its back up against a wall, Bishop. And you are not completely in the clear.
A pretrial hearing in the case is still on for Tuesday. Plaintiff’s attorneys want a judge to hold Brown in contempt of court for sending a priest who used to field sex-abuse complaints to a facility in Canada for psychological treatment. Brown will be at the hearing.
I read the Bishop's deposition transcript in this matter. I would be interested in seeing whether the hearing evolves into an evidentiary hearing. If called to the stand, would the vicar of priests, Fr. Christopher Smith, testify that he had informed Bishop Brown of Monsignor Urell's condition and was instructed by the Bishop to send him to Toronto? The Bishop said he was unaware that Monsignor Urell was heading north and that the decision was made by Fr. Smith and Urell's doctors, notwithstanding his leadership position. Would the Bishop pin the blame on one of his priests?