The Randy Reverend of Queens

By Jojo Robles
Manila Standard Today

November 14, 2008

New Yorkers, who have probably seen and heard of everything, are still talking about the bombshell $25-million suit filed recently by a 50-year-old Queens woman against a Viagra-popping Filipino Catholic priest who allegedly seduced her while she was confessing her sins to him in a local church. The priest the tabloids have christened “the randy reverend,” Elvis Elano, 44, apparently seduced a former parishioner named Judith Rodrigues-Lytwyn in the confessional of Our Lady of the Snows parish in Glen Oaks while the latter was telling him about the break-up of her marriage.

The lawsuit was filed against the priest, the parish and the Brooklyn diocese for which the cleric worked. An upstate New York hospital, where Elano had been reassigned as chaplain for three months after working in the Queens parish, suspended the priest in the aftermath of the scandal.

“I was going through a very rough period in my life and I was looking for some spiritual guidance, and finding some peace from a religious perspective,” Rodrigues-Lytwyn said in a statement. “And he essentially took advantage of that. I was overwhelmed by his advances. Once I got my head on straight, I realized that he preyed upon me.”

Tabloid accounts gleefully recounted details of Rodrigues-Lytwyn’s suit, beginning with the complainant’s first encounter with the priest in the confessional. According to Rodrigues-Lytwyn, Elano professed his love for her while she was confessing to him last March, telling her that “your presence struck me like a thunder bolt” and that their union was “ordained by God.”

This meeting in the confessional prompted the New York Post to quip that the priest might as well have told the complainant: “Tell me your sins. Now let’s commit some.” A seven-month relationship followed the session in the confessional, during which the priest—who was apparently concerned about delivering more than a sermon, the Post said—ordered Viagra over the Internet, with instructions to deliver the performance-enhancing drug to the home of the woman.

The complainant also produced photographs of a half-naked Elano kneeling and apparently praying (before sex?), the two of them hugging on the beach and of the reverend in a roguish pose with a rose in his mouth. The affair ended before Elano was transferred from the parish, where he had been working for five years, to the upstate Benedictine hospital as chaplain.

But not before the priest, in an e-mail to Rodrigues-Lytwyn, revealed that he had developed a spreading genital rash that he reportedly admitted that he may have gotten from another woman, the tabloids reported. “The other Friday, I tried to look for a doctor who does not know me,” Elano wrote in the e-mail. “It is because of the rash on my thing. It is spreading out. Now I even have on my legs. They are like spots but painful. I don’t know what it is but I am still applying [a corticosteroid].”

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The complainant’s lawyer, Andrew Laufer, said his client apparently wasn’t the first victim of the Pinoy reverend. “This guy knew what he was doing,” Laufer said. “We feel that he’s done this before, exploited a woman such as her, who’s in the middle of a divorce, who’s been physically abused, and whose self-esteem and self-confidence is at a low. He manipulated that.”

Elano, despite the efforts of reporters tracking him down, has not been heard from. At Our Lady of Snows, parishioners have started praying that the church may soon get over the scandal. In recent Sunday-morning masses, churchgoers were told that special prayer services will be held to help heal the wounds the scandal has brought to their parish.

Some parishioners said they were shocked but others defended Elano. One 80-year-old woman told the New York Post: “I don’t care whether he’s a priest or not, when a woman opens her legs, a man is not going to say no. I don’t believe it, but if he did it, more power to him.”

Typically, the Brooklyn diocese said it had no comment about the lawsuit. A church spokesman said Elano’s departure from the church in Glen Oaks had nothing to do with the sex scandal.

A terse statement from the diocese said it had already known about the relationship between a local priest and the complainant before the suit was filed. “In August of 2008, Ms. Judith Rodrigues-Lytwyn informed the diocese of Brooklyn that she had been involved in an inappropriate relationship with a priest who had served in the diocese. Despite repeated requests on the part of diocesan officials, she neither would name the priest nor would she identify the parish in which the priest had served,” the statement said.

Other reports said New York church officials have prohibited Elano from performing his priestly functions, noting that his status was merely that of “visiting priest” in the diocese. Elano studied at the Our Lady of Penafrancia Seminary in Sorsogon and was ordained in 1992.

Later reports said Elano once delivered pizzas for $6 an hour in his spare time for extra money to send home to the Philippines. Elano worked for Knapp Pizza II, a family-run eatery in Gravesend, Brooklyn, in the shadow of Our Lady of Grace church, where he was assigned until June 2007.

Known to parishioners there as Father Elvis, Elano worked night shifts during the 2006 holidays to ensure that his family in the Philippines “would be spared a blue Christmas,” pizzeria co-owner Frank Sciortino, 25, told the Post.

Apparently he spent the money he had left on Viagra.


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