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  Hume Captured Ziemann in Taped Conversation

By James W. Sweeney
Press Democrat
October 1, 1999

Bishop G. Patrick Ziemann apologized in a taped conversation for insisting on sexual encounters with a fellow priest who has accused the bishop of coercion, according to court records released Thursday.

The Sept. 8, 1998 conversation at Ziemann's residence was surreptitiously recorded by the Rev. Jorge Hume and turned over to Santa Rosa police as evidence that the former Roman Catholic prelate demanded sexual favors from Hume.

A summary of the tape is included in 24 pages of previously sealed investigative records made public after a legal challenge by The Press Democrat.

In a police affidavit that quotes portions of the 45-minute conversation, Ziemann asks Hume, "You know when we were intimate physically with each other?" and then says, "It has been my fault, and I am sorry for that. I don't think you wanted to do that."

Prosecutors must decide whether Ziemann's statements and his actions during a two-year sexual relationship with Hume rise to the level of criminal coercion. Ziemann has publicly admitted a sexual relationship with Hume, but says it was consensual.

Lawyers representing Ziemann say that the tape is consistent with his public statement. "The tape does not change anything," attorney Chris Andrian said. "This guy goes over there. He is playing to an audience. He knows he is on tape. He is casting it in a light that is best for him. The bishop says he knows it is wrong. But there is no evidence of force."

On the other hand, Hume's attorney, Irma Cordova, said the tape is clear-cut evidence that Ziemann was a sexual predator. "The tape speaks for itself," she said. "It shows coercion."

Sonoma County prosecutors are still sifting through mounds of evidence gathered in California, Missouri, Mexico and Costa Rica during a three-month investigation that began when Hume went to police with his allegations of sexual abuse by the leader of the region's 140,000 Roman Catholics.

Gary Medvigy, the deputy district attorney in charge of the investigation, declined to comment about the tape or any of the other evidence released Thursday.

"It's just too sensitive a case to talk about right now," he said.

Ziemann resigned July 21 after Hume's allegations became public when he followed the criminal complaint with a lawsuit accusing the bishop of forcing him to engage in oral sex, sodomy and other sexual acts that left him with a venereal infection and pubic lice.

Since he stepped down, the church has acknowledged debts of $15 million, halted building programs and cut off subsidies for some parish schools. Church leaders blame excessive spending and the cost of settling legal claims for sexual misconduct by priests during Ziemann's seven-year tenure.

District Attorney Mike Mullins obtained a court order sealing all records of searches conducted July 22 at Ziemann's Hermit Way home and his chancery office on 10th Street. He opposed efforts to obtain copies of the records by The Press Democrat, which cited a state law making warrant records available to the public 10 days after a search is conducted.

Judge Allan D. Hardcastle, who signed and sealed the original warrants, on Thursday ordered the release of police affidavits and inventories of the seized evidence. He deleted the names of witnesses and descriptions of the sexual encounters between the bishop and Hume, a Costa Rican immigrant who arrived in Santa Rosa the same week as Ziemann and was ordained as a priest barely a year later.

In addition to the tape of the Sept. 8, 1998 conversation at Ziemann's home, Hume provided police with a second tape from his telephone answering machine and physical evidence of his relationship with Ziemann, including a towel and some tissue paper stained with semen.

Police obtained a blood sample from Ziemann but Medvigy refused to say if test results produced a match with the semen.

Their searches produced personnel, medical and financial records covering Ziemann and Hume. At the bishop's home, investigators also took calendars, date books, photographs, a Christmas card from Hume to Ziemann and videotapes involving the church's sexual misconduct policy.

But it is the taped conversation that provides the first opportunity to hear Ziemann's own words about the relationship that ended his 32-year career in the Roman Catholic Church.

At one point, he apologizes and tells Hume, "Maybe I'll make it up to you."

"It's too late bishop," Hume replied.

Santa Rosa police Detective Ruben Sanchez, in a sworn affidavit filed in court, cited the tape as corroborating evidence of "sexual and psychological abuse as well as economic coercion" by Ziemann.

Joseph Piasta, an attorney representing Ziemann in the civil suit, lambasted Hume for making the tape in the first place. "I think we Americans have strong feelings about people who do those kind of things," he said. "Why would you do that unless you were trying to set someone up?"

It is unclear why Hume elected to record the conversation, which came shortly after Ziemann gave him a choice of leaving the priesthood or accepting an assignment at a mission in his native Costa Rica. During the taped meeting, Ziemann offered graduate school as an alternative.

Hume refused all three and currently is without an assignment from the church.

In the five years he spent as an active priest in the Diocese of Santa Rosa, Hume was removed from two parishes following allegations of misconduct. He admitted stealing $1,200 from St. Mary's Church in Ukiah, saying he sent the money to Latin American missions because he thought it was being misused.

But he denied allegations of sexual misconduct with young men at the Ukiah church and at his next posting, St. John's parish in Napa.

No criminal charges were ever filed against Hume, who said in his complaint to Santa Rosa police and his criminal lawsuit that Ziemann used the specter of prosecution to force him into unwanted sexual acts.

"In listening to the taped conversation, it appeared that every time Ziemann mentioned the police (Hume) sounded nervous," Sanchez said in his affidavit. "It was obvious that (Hume) was not familiar as to how the judicial process works here."

The affidavit outlines a sexual relationship that began in May 1996 at a St. Mary's church residence in Ukiah and ended in Napa at the Embassy Suites hotel 17 days before Hume secretly taped his conversation with Ziemann.

In between, it describes several other encounters and details Hume's meetings with priests and psychologists to evaluate his own sexual orientation. Ziemann ordered him to undergo therapy, including a two-week stay at St. Michael's Community, a program operated by the church in St. Louis, after the allegations about sexual misconduct surfaced in Ukiah.

Hume also said Ziemann followed him to St. Louis and forced him to have sex there, giving him $80 and taking him to dinner afterward. He told police that he told staff members about his encounters with Ziemann, and that at least one of them commented about the bishop placing his hand on Hume's leg during a ride from the airport to the Hilton Hotel.

The affidavit also says Hume's evaluation from St. Michael's recommends that there should be a third party present during his future dealings with Ziemann.

However, Hume told investigators that his vow of obedience prevented him from providing full names for any of the priests at St. Michael's.

He also told police that he confided in three priests, though their names were deleted from the court records before they were made public.

Staff Writers Mike Geniella and Bob Klose contributed to this report.

For the Record published October 2, 1999

A story on Page A1 Friday misstated the date and location of the first reported sexual encounter involving Bishop G. Patrick Ziemann and the Rev. Jorge Hume. It was June 27, 1996, at the bishop's residence in Santa Rosa.

 
 

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