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  Ex-Ukiah Priest Won't Face Charges

By Mike Geniella
Press Democrat
February 23, 1999

The Mendocino County's District Attorney's Office on Monday rejected a police case against a former Ukiah priest, saying several alleged incidents of sexual abuse against four men occurred too long ago to prosecute.

Deputy District Attorney Myron Sawicki said under current law only sexual assault allegations dating back one year can be prosecuted.

"Time ran out on even the most serious allegation outlined in the police report," said Sawicki of a Ukiah police investigation into claims that the Rev. Jorge Hume in 1996 sexually accosted four men whom he befriended through Latino groups at St. Mary's Church in Ukiah. The allegations ranged from groping to fondling a man while he was asleep.

Sawicki said the allegations "should have been brought to our attention a lot earlier. Maybe we could have done something about them."

Hume could not be reached Monday for comment. The diocese relieved Hume of his priestly duties in late January pending police and church investigations into additional sexual misconduct allegations in Napa.

The four Ukiah men, all over age 18, first reported their allegations to Ukiah police last month following news reports about Hume's 1996 ouster from the Ukiah church in the wake of his admission to church leaders that he stole money from church collections. Bishop Patrick Ziemann acknowledged he had been told about the sexual claims before Hume's removal but no complaints about the theft or sexual misconduct were ever filed with police until recently.

Hume's attorney, Irma Perez Cordova of Santa Rosa, said Monday she was pleased that Mendocino County authorities have dropped the Ukiah case.

"There's simply no truth to the allegations, any of them," said Cordova.

Hume, however, still faces possible prosecution in Napa County, where police are conducting an investigation into an alleged incident that falls within the required one-year time frame.

In a case similar to allegations made against Hume in Ukiah, the priest is accused of sexually accosting a young man in Napa soon after he arrived at St. John's Church, according to Napa Police Commander William Jabin.

Jabin said Monday that the young man, then 18, told police investigators that he awoke in the early morning of May 13, 1998, in Hume's room at the Napa church rectory to find the priest sexually stimulating him.

"We have a few more witnesses to interview, and then we plan to turn over the case to our District Attorney's Office for review and possible prosecution," said Jabin.

"They're all bogus allegations," said Cordova.

While Hume admitted stealing $1,200 from the Ukiah church in 1996, Cordova contended that church leaders rebuffed his subsequent attempts to repay them. Ukiah church representatives say they refused Hume's offer because they believed he stole at least $10,000. The Diocese of Santa Rosa, under direction of Bishop Ziemann, eventually reimbursed the Ukiah church about $4,200.

Cordova said the charges have been "incredibly hard" on Hume. "I feel he's the victim of a smear campaign," said Cordova.

 
 

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