Man sues former LA bishop for 19 years of alleged sex abuse

The Associated Press
Monday July 08, 2002

LOS ANGELES – A 47-year-old man sued a former Roman Catholic bishop, who was forced to resign in a 1999 sex scandal, for alleged sex abuse that began when he was an altar boy in 1968 and continued for nearly two decades, it was reported Saturday. 

The Superior Court lawsuit was filed Friday by John Manly, a Costa Mesa attorney, who represents the unidentified man, whose name was not part of the civil claim. Manly’s client alleges the molestation began while he was a sixth-grade altar boy at St. Matthias Church in Huntington Park when he allegedly was forced to take a shower with the bishop after playing basketball. The amount of money being sought was undetermined. 

At 17, the plaintiff alleges, the bishop began paying him for various sexual acts, and he continued the relationship after being named spiritual director of the now-closed Queen of Angels Seminary in San Fernando Valley in 1985. 

The suit against G. Patrick Ziemann, 60, who now lives in an Arizona monastery, claims the relationship went on until Ziemann was named auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles in 1987, the Los Angeles Times said. 

Ziemann worked under then-Archbishop Roger M. Mahony, overseeing parishes, schools and other church institutions in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. In 1992, the Vatican named him bishop of Santa Rosa. 

Manly also claims that the archdioceses of Los Angeles and San Francisco recommended to Pope John Paul II that Ziemann be appointed bishop of Santa Rosa “in part as a reward for his agreement to engage with them in a conspiracy to conceal sexual abuse” within the church. 

A spokesman for the Los Angeles Archdiocese said the church hadn’t seen the lawsuit and could not comment. 

Neither Ziemann nor his attorney could be reached by the Times for comment late Friday. 

Ziemann stepped down as Santa Rosa bishop in 1999 after a priest filed a lawsuit alleging sexual battery, forced oral copulation and abuse of authority. Father Jorge Hume Salas claimed the bishop forced him into a two-year sexual relationship in exchange for withholding from police evidence of Salas’ admitted theft of church collection money. 

Ziemann’s lawyers said that the affair was consensual and that Salas filed the suit after seeking a secret $8-million settlement. The Santa Rosa diocese agreed on a $535,000 settlement payment 10 months later.