No ruling has been given yet for a temporary injunction request in a civil lawsuit filed against the Archdiocese of San Antonio and four priests, including the now-deceased Fr. Virgilio Elizondo.

The request was filed by attorneys representing an unnamed plaintiff, called John Doe in the suit, who claims he was sexually abused in the early 1980s by Elizondo and another local priest, Jesus Armando Dominguez. The suit lists Elizondo and Dominguez along with the Archdiocese, current Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller and his predecessor, Archbishop Emeritus Patrick Flores. Thomas J. Henry, a local high-profile law firm, filed the suit in May 2015.

Travis Venable, the lead attorney for the plaintiff, said the police record of inventoried personal items taken from Fr. Elizondo’s Westside home following his suicide on March 14 included a cellphone and personal computer belonging to the noted Hispanic Catholic theologian and local religious leader. These items may prove important to his plaintiff’s case, Venable said.

At a hearing on the temporary injunction motion on Tuesday, the Judge Laura Salinas of the 166th Civil District Court found that the format of some information was incorrect. The court was to reconvene on the matter Wednesday afternoon, but the plaintiff’s attorneys asked for the hearing to be reset.

While she is not named as a defendant in the suit, the sister of the late Fr. Elizondo, Anita Elizondo Valencia, requested legal representation in the case after she qualified to be executor of her brother’s estate last week.

Robert Valdez, an attorney representing Fr. Elizondo in the lawsuit, said he is also representing Valencia’s “personal interests,” but assured the court that she not an official defendant in the case nor is the estate being sued.

Robert Valdez (left), an attorney representing the late Fr. Virgilio Elizondo in a lawsuit, makes a point during a temporary injunction hearing in Judge Laura Salinas' courtroom on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. Photo by Edmond Ortiz
Robert Valdez (left), an attorney representing the late Fr. Virgilio Elizondo in a lawsuit, makes a point during a temporary injunction hearing in Judge Laura Salinas’ courtroom on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. Photo by Edmond Ortiz

Salinas told Venable that his attempt to provide a copy of police information was not yet submitted in a business record affidavit, and therefore inadmissible.

“We have to insist precedent be followed. Everything has to be in proper form,” Valdez told Salinas. The judge asked Venable to ensure the supporting files for the temporary injunction request be properly formatted, and for attorneys on both sides to return Wednesday.

However, the reconvening of the hearing did not happen. Robert Flores, court clerk, told a reporter the plaintiff’s attorneys requested a hearing reset earlier in the day. As of Sunday evening, a rescheduling was not confirmed, according to Bexar County court records. No one from the Thomas J. Henry firm responded to a request for information.

Jordan McMorrough, communications director for the archdiocese, told a reporter earlier this month that according to policy, officials from the archdiocese do not comment on the status of ongoing litigation.

“We believe that legal actions deserve a complete and objective review in a court of law,” he added.

A temporary injunction is a court order prohibiting an action by a party in a lawsuit until there has been a trial or other court action. A temporary injunction is different from a temporary restraining order, which is a short-term, stop-gap injunction issued pending a hearing. A temporary injunction may be ordered in effect until trial.

The lawsuit outlines the unnamed plaintiff’s allegations that he was repeatedly molested between 1980 and 1983 by Dominguez, a seminarian attending the Assumption Seminary at the time the plaintiff resided at a local orphanage.

Dominguez, ordained a priest in San Bernardino, Calif., later fled to Mexico to evade criminal charges in California of molesting multiple boys in that diocese. Numerous civil cases filed against him there were settled out of court by the San Bernardino diocese. Dominguez was never arrested.

The John Doe claims he told now-retired Archbishop Flores about Dominguez and the incidents of abuse at the time they occurred, but that local Church leaders never followed through on a pledge to investigate. The plaintiff also claims in the suit that he told Elizondo about the molestation while the two were in a vehicle, and that Elizondo then kissed and fondled him, prompting the plaintiff to flee.

Additionally, the plaintiff claims in the lawsuit that he told the San Bernardino Diocese about Dominguez’s alleged abuses, but authorities there did nothing until a formal lawsuit was filed against Dominguez in 2004.

The filing of the lawsuit 33 years after the alleged incidents, and the plaintiff’s anonymity, has raised questions about the validity of the complaint against Elizondo, who asserted his innocence at the time and pledged to fight the accusation. No other charges ever arose against Elizondo in his 53 years as an ordained priest.

The plaintiff is looking for compensation for years of medical treatment and psychological counseling he has undergone since the alleged abuse, and the physical and mental suffering he has endured that his lawyers claim has kept him from having stable work and from living independently.

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Top image: Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller folds his hands during the 2016 Blessing of the Hands at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church. Photo by Scott Ball. 

Related Stories:

Fr. David Garcia’s Bilingual Homily at Memorial Mass for Fr. Virgil Elizondo

A Meditation on Fr. Virgil and His Redeeming Works

Archbishop to Preside at Mass for Fr. Virgilio Elizondo

Commentary: ‘Father Virgil’ on My Mind

Fr. Virgil Elizondo Takes His Own Life

Edmond Ortiz

Edmond Ortiz, a lifelong San Antonian, is a freelance reporter/editor who has worked with the San Antonio Express-News and Prime Time Newspapers.