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Theology professor dies in San Antonio

| Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Theology professor Fr. Virgilio Elizondo, who is widely considered the founder of U.S. Latino theology and received the 1997 Laetare Medal, committed suicide Monday in San Antonio, according to a South Bend Tribune report.

“San Antonio Police Department officers were called at 1:55 p.m. Monday to a house owned by Elizondo,” the report stated.“The Bexar County medical examiner confirmed to the [San Antonio] Express-News on Tuesday that Elizondo was pronounced dead five minutes after officers arrived, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

Elizondo, the University of Notre Dame professor of Pastoral and Hispanic Theology, was named in a 2015 San Antonio civil suit alleging Elizondo sexually abused the unnamed plaintiff when he was a minor, according to a report originally run by WSBT. Elizondo last taught at the University during the spring 2015 term, University spokesperson Dennis Brown said in an email. 

The lawsuit was filed against the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Fr. Jesus Armando Dominguez and Elizondo in Bexar County district court. It alleges Dominguez repeatedly sexually abused the plaintiff, listed as “John Doe” in the 1980s. When the plaintiff asked Elizondo for help dealing with Dominguez’s abuse in 1983, the lawsuit alleges “Elizondo began to fondle the Plaintiff’s genitals, taking advantage of the same sexual liberties Plaintiff complained of with Father Dominguez.”

In a report in the Express-News, Elizondo denied the allegations.

“The allegations made against me are not true and have absolutely no basis in fact,” Elizondo said in the Express-News report. “I deny all the claims which have been asserted against me.”

The lawyer representing the plaintiff in the lawsuit, Thomas J. Henry, said Elizondo’s death is “unfortunate,” mysantonio.com reported Tuesday. 

“The next stage in this litigation was discovery production and the taking of depositions,” Henry said. “The taking of Father Elizondo’s deposition could have led us to the truth regarding his actions, and his untimely death at this juncture raises even more questions. We will continue to seek and uncover the facts of this matter.”

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