July 23, 2005

Ex-priest guilty of sexual misconduct

Pioneer Press

Pioneer Press

A Hennepin County jury on Friday convicted a former Catholic priest from St. Paul of sexual misconduct with two female parishioners.

John Joseph Bussmann, 51, was found guilty of two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, according to the Hennepin County attorney's office. The jury convicted him after a one-week trial and a half-day of deliberations. Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar said consent was not a defense in this case because the incidents happened while Bussmann was religiously counseling the victims.

Bussmann's defense attorney denied that the incidents happened during an ongoing religious counseling relationship. Bussmann, who was a priest at St. Walburga Catholic Church in Hassan, Minn., and St. Martin's Catholic Church in Rogers, Minn., did not testify at the trial.

One victim reported to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in March 2003 that Bussmann had sex with her about nine times from September 2002 to March 2003 at the church rectory, in his car, in her home and at his St. Paul condominium, prosecutors said. He allegedly told her God had put the two of them together.

Authorities found documents at Bussmann's condominium indicating he possibly had a sexual relationship with another female parishioner, prosecutors said in a statement Friday. The woman told investigators she and Bussmann had sex at least four times. Bussmann allegedly told the victim her recently deceased mother wanted them to be together.

Posted by kshaw at July 23, 2005 08:02 AM