first_imgOrange County’s Roman Catholic bishop testified that he was falsely accused of sexually molesting a male parishioner when he was a priest in Bakersfield decades ago, according to a deposition transcript made public Thursday. Bishop Tod Brown testified earlier this week in a court-ordered deposition as part of an unrelated sexual-abuse lawsuit filed by a woman against a former coach and driving instructor at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana. A judge unsealed the transcript at a hearing Thursday after church attorneys sought to have portions of the testimony redacted over privacy concerns. Brown testified that he learned of the allegations against him in July 1997, when he was bishop of the Diocese of Boise, Idaho. He said the bishop of the Diocese of Fresno, which included Bakersfield, called to say that a man was accusing Brown of molesting him during confession and in catechism classes when the accuser was a boy in the late 1960s. The Diocese of Fresno released a statement Thursday saying that an internal investigation uncovered “absolutely no factual or credible basis whatsoever” for the complaint. The Fresno diocese forwarded its completed investigation to Kern County prosecutors, who declined to press charges, said Ryan Lilyengren, a spokesman for the Diocese of Orange. A telephone message seeking comment from the District Attorney’s Office was not immediately returned. Brown was praised in 2004 when he settled about 90 sexual-abuse lawsuits against the Diocese of Orange for $100 million, the largest settlement at the time. Brown then released a “Convenant of the Faithful,” in which he pledged transparency and accountability in matters of clergy sexual abuse. The diocese later released thousands of pages from the personnel files of 15 accused priests, although no files have been released on eight others. In the deposition, Brown said he was shocked and extremely distressed to learn of the accusation against him. He said he “vaguely” remembered the parishioner from his time in Bakersfield. He said he didn’t make the allegation public because he knew it was not true and he was not placed on administrative leave during the internal investigation. Brown said he later consulted a clinical psychologist to try to understand what would have motivated the accuser to make a false complaint against him. “He explained to me what oftentimes does happen. And so at least it gave me some understanding of what may have happened,” Brown said. The bishop was asked why, if he was innocent, he didn’t reveal the allegation on his own. “Because it was very embarrassing and very painful. And to be very honest, I think that kind of an allegation is difficult to deal with regardless of how innocent a person may be,” Brown said. Brown’s deposition was taken earlier this week.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img