- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 27, 2015

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - A Roman Catholic priest who is a theology professor at the University of Notre Dame is accused of sexually abusing an unidentified boy more than 30 years ago in a lawsuit filed against him, the Archdiocese of San Antonio and a former priest who is believed to have gone into hiding more than a decade ago.

The 19-page lawsuit, filed Friday in Bexar County District Court in San Antonio, alleges that a boy listed as John Doe living in an orphanage was repeatedly sexually abused by Jesus Armando Dominguez while he was a student at Assumption Seminary. The lawsuit also alleges the boy was sexually abused again when he reported the abuse to the Rev. Virgilio Elizondo, who now teaches at Notre Dame. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Elizondo did not respond to a message left Wednesday at his office by The Associated Press or an email seeking comment. Notre Dame spokesman Paul Browne said Wednesday the university was “reserving comment until further inquiries are completed,” saying the school had only learned of the allegation after WSBT-TV in South Bend reported it Tuesday night.

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, released a statement Wednesday saying Notre Dame officials should immediately suspend Elizondo.

“They, along with San Antonio Catholic officials, should aggressively seek out others who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by the cleric or cover ups by his church supervisors,” he wrote.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Thomas J. Henry of Corpus Christi, alleges that the archdiocese is responsible for the actions of Elizondo and Dominguez and that the archbishops not only tolerated the abuse, but aided and abetted the priests. Deacon Pat Rodgers, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said he couldn’t comment because the archdiocese had not yet been served with the lawsuit.

A message seeking comment from Henry was left Wednesday by The Associated Press.

The lawsuit alleges the abuse by Dominguez began in 1980 after he became a father figure to the orphan boy, helping him with homework, clothing and food and taking him out occasionally to a movie and once bringing him and another boy to Disneyland. The lawsuit alleges that the abuse, which included a threat to kill the boy if he turned Dominguez in, continued until 1983.

The lawsuit alleges the boy told Elizondo of the abuse in 1983 during a car ride and that Elizondo fondled him and kissed him, giving him “more reasons to feel unsafe within the care and guard of the Roman Catholic Church.”

The lawsuit said the victim has been plagued with anger and severe depression; has suffered emotional trauma that led to self-destructive conduct, including multiple types of substance abuse and addictions; and has trouble keeping a job. The lawsuit seeks damages.

Elizondo’s website said he is “widely acclaimed as the founder of U.S. Latino theology.” In 1997, Notre Dame awarded him the Laetare Medal, which goes annually to a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” He joined the Notre Dame faculty in 2002 and was one of five people that year to be given a Hispanic Heritage Awards at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Dominguez was a former aide to former Bishop Phillip Straling in San Bernardino, California. Dominguez vanished in 2005 shortly before being charged with 58 counts of sexual abuse for allegedly abusing two teenage altar boys in the 1980s at California parishes.


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