updated 10/5/2007 8:49:33 PM ET 2007-10-06T00:49:33

The Diocese of Orange said Friday that it has settled four sex-abuse cases, including a case that had threatened to expose the bishop to a contempt of court hearing next week.

It wasn't immediately known how much the plaintiffs would receive under the terms of the deal, which had been in the works for several weeks as attorneys simultaneously prepared for trial.

The cases were the first to be filed since 2004, when the Diocese of Orange reached a record-breaking $100 million settlement with about 90 plaintiffs. The 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 allegations against a priest at a neighborhood parish.

"The settlement of these civil cases represents the moral obligation for the church for such behavior by adults in positions of responsibility," Bishop Tod D. Brown said in a statement.

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 alleges she was sexually molested by her choir teachers in the late 1990s at Mater Dei.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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