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It's not clear why Larry wrote to Mahony, since the cardinal's only connection with Brown is that both graduated from St. John's just a year apart. Nevertheless, Mahony's office responded: on March 26, 2002, then-Vicar for Clergy Craig A. Cox wrote to Larry that he "profoundly regret[ted] that you yourself experienced childhood sexual abuse. . . . While our human condition means we can never expect to root out all sinfulness, we will do our best to prevent child abuse and to assure the integrity of the Church's ministry. Please pray for the success of these efforts." No record exists, however, of whether Cox or Mahony told Brown about the allegation. Larry also wrote to Boston Cardinal Bernard Law, but his office never responded.
Brown isn't the first bishop accused of sexual abuse. In the early 1990s, a man accused Archdiocese of Chicago Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of abuse but later recanted. Mahony was accused in 2002, but Fresno police quickly dropped the charge after the accuser couldn't provide evidence other than her admittedly schizophrenic memory. As a result, Mahony included himself in the Los Angeles Archdiocese's 2004 "Report to the People of God," a recounting of all the Los Angeles-area priests ever accused of sexual abuse.
Brown, however, has never publicly disclosed the allegations that Larry made against him. The Orange diocese did not return calls from the Weekly seeking comment for this story.
Sources familiar with the Orange diocese sex-abuse scandal told the Weekly they've never heard of a molestation allegation lodged against Brown; and if he were to honor his "Covenant With the Faithful," he would have already disclosed such an accusation. The sources also question why Brown wouldn't have publicly acknowledged the existence of Larry's complaints—if, as Larry claims, Steinbock alerted Brown about the matter in 1997.
"I've reviewed the documents," says Ryan DiMaria, a Newport Beach-based lawyer with the well-known firm Manly & McGuire and himself a victim of sex abuse at the hands of an Orange County Catholic priest. "Based on my prior experience, they appear authentic and very troubling."
Larry is currently mulling his legal options. He admits to not having approached the Orange diocese or Brown with his story, but only because "it's been a process for me to even talk about the matter." He expects waves of skepticism to greet him, but Larry doesn't care. "I can handle whatever may come," he says.