Little Known of Hume before Priesthood, Trouble

By Mike Geniella
Press Democrat
July 23, 1999

Jorge Hume, the former Ukiah priest who accused Bishop Patrick Ziemann of sexual misconduct, has been a mysterious figure at the center of controversy almost since his 1992 arrival in the Santa Rosa Diocese.

Hume first stepped into the life of the diocese with Ziemann's aid seven years ago. The bishop, eager to expand Catholic ministry to the diocese's growing Latino communities, allowed the Costa Rican native to pursue the priesthood while on assignment at St. Mary's Church in Ukiah.

Hume had said he studied four years of theology and psychology at the University of Mexico in preparation for the priesthood.

But Ukiah church leaders say they've never seen supporting documentation.

"The only thing we knew about Jorge when the bishop sent him to us was that for the two years before he had been a maintenance man in New York City who longed to be a priest," said Sister Jane Kelly, a nun based in Ukiah for nearly 30 years.

Despite her misgivings, Kelly was directed by Ziemann to be Hume's religious supervisor in his rise to the priesthood. Within two years of his arrival in the diocese, Hume was ordained a priest by Ziemann in a ceremony attended by hundreds of Anglo and Latino parishoners.

But just two years after joining the priesthood, as part of the diocese headed by Ziemann, Hume, who now goes by the name of Jorge Hume Salas, ran into trouble at the Ukiah church.

In 1996, he admitted stealing church money after an internal investigation uncovered a series of thefts from weekend collections. Hume said the money went to charities in Mexico.

At the same time, Ukiah church leaders were increasingly concerned about reports that Hume had brought young Latino men to his room at the rectory. Eventually, four men claimed they had been sexually accosted by Hume at the rectory, although no charges were ever filed.

In early 1998, Hume was reassigned by Ziemann to a church in Napa. Last January, Hume became a subject of controversy when stories in The Press Democrat revealed the theft in Ukiah and allegations of sexual misconduct.

Hume has declined to be interviewed and is believed to be in Costa Rica. His attorney has said Hume admitted taking $1,200 of church money, but vehemently denies any sexual misconduct or improper contact with Latino parishioners.

Hume filed his lawsuit last Friday, claiming he was a victim of the bishop's coercion, forced into sex acts with him under threat of being turned over to police in Ukiah. Ziemann said Thursday the contact was consensual and there was no coercion.

Kelly has been a frequent critic of the bishop's handling of priestly misconduct but also once labeled Hume a "pathological liar" in a letter to diocesan officials.

"I don't know what to make of all of this except that I know the misconduct must come to an end," Kelly said.


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