LAWSUITS: The bishop is still facing contempt charges for sending a key witness out of the country. By Gillian Flaccus THE ASSOCIATED PRESS The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange said Friday that it will pay nearly $7 million to settle four sexual abuse lawsuits, including one for which the bishop faces contempt of court proceedings for sending a monsignor out of the country before he could testify. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREChargers go winless in AFC West with season-ending loss in Kansas CityThe cases were the first to be filed since 2004, when the diocese reached a record-breaking $100 million settlement with about 90 plaintiffs. The four lawsuits, the first of which was to go to trial Oct. 15, involved allegations against three lay teachers at Mater Dei High School and Santa Margarita High School, as well as a lay musician at a neighborhood parish. “I’m sorry that any of this happened and that even one person was abused,” Bishop Tod D. Brown said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “We’ve taken every possible position that we can to make sure this doesn’t happen again, and I hope it doesn’t.” Sarah Gray, one of the plaintiffs, said she was pleased to have a settlement but still had to work on personal healing. “I really wanted to go to trial, and at the same time, I think, the settlement really accords the same amount of accountability to the diocese,” said Gray, who alleged she was sexually molested by her choir teachers in the late 1990s at Mater Dei. The diocese will pay $6.685 million to the four plaintiffs, making an average payout of $1.7 million per person. The case against a coach at Mater Dei had put Brown in the unusual position of having to sit for a contempt of court hearing, scheduled for Tuesday. If the hearing goes forward and Brown is found to be in contempt, he could face sanctions from a verbal reprimand to jail time. Defense lawyers said they had not reached the settlement to avoid Brown’s contempt of court hearing for sending a key witness to Canada for medical treatment. Brown will insist on going forward with the hearing Tuesday to clear his name, said Peter Callahan, the bishop’s attorney. “The bishop wants to go; he wants to clear his name from these accusations,” Callahan said. “The story is going to be that we settled to avoid the contempt charge, and that’s just a darn untruth.” Orange County Superior Court Judge Gail Andler this week ordered a hearing to determine whether Brown should be held in contempt for sending a high-ranking church official to Canada for medical treatment before he could complete his deposition in the case. Brown denied Friday that he sent Msgr. John Urell away to keep evidence out of the court’s hands.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!