Notre Dame priest, professor named in Texas sexual assault lawsuit

By Suzanne Spencer
May 26, 2015

[with video]


A priest and professor teaching at Notre Dame is named in a civil lawsuit in Texas. In the lawsuit, Rev. Virgilio Elizondo is one of two priests accused of sexually assaulting a minor in the 1980s.

The plaintiff, who is not named, accused Fr. Elizondo of touching the minor inappropriately. The lawsuit says Fr. Elizondo, "reached over, kissed him, and began to fondle him..." 

According to the court documents, the plaintiff "fought off Father Elizondo and then ran from his vehicle" during an incident in 1983.

The same plaintiff claims another priest, Fr. Jesus Armando Dominguez, touched him inappropriately on several occasions. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff went to Elizondo "to seek clarity from Father Elizondo regarding his past interactions with the now, Father Dominquez."

As a result, the lawsuit says the plaintiff suffered emotional trauma, loss of respect for authority, attempted suicide, and suffers from substance abuse and addictions.

The lawsuit was filed against the Archdiocese of San Antonio on Tuesday, claiming the diocese did "nothing to expose these incidents of molestation."

Fr. Elizondo was in San Antonio serving as a rector at the San Fernando Cathedral in 1983, according to his personal website. The website also says Fr. Elizondo joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1999, where he serves as a Professor of Pastoral and Hispanic Theology and is a Fellow of the Institute for Latino Studies.

It also says he commutes to his primary residence in San Antonio, where he works with the Catholic Television of San Antonio.

According the University of Notre Dame's website, Fr. Elizondo is an endowed professor in the University's Department of Theology.

Paul Browne, vice president for public affairs and communications at the University of Notre Dame, released the following statement:

"We can confirm that Father Elizondo is on the faculty, but we are just learning of the allegation through your inquiry. We are reserving further comment until we examine the plaintiff's San Antonio filing and make further inquiries."

Elizondo is not facing criminal charges. It’s not clear yet how much money the plaintiff is seeking in damages, but the lawsuit says the amount falls within Texas jurisdictional limits.

WSBT 22's Suzanne Spencer continues to work on this developing story. Watch WSBT 22 News at 11 for the latest.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.