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Women accuse Texas priest of sex abuse, file lawsuit

November 16, 2018

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Six women filed a lawsuit in Texas on Wednesday accusing a Catholic priest of subjecting them to sexual harassment and abuse in recent years, including groping and inappropriate behavior while taking confessions.

The suit lists Bishop Joe Vasquez, the Catholic Diocese of Austin and Father Isidore Ndagizimana as defendants. It claimed Ndagizimana held women against their will, made sexual comments and advances, and gave them unwanted kisses.

One woman said the priest grabbed her and pulled her “tightly to his chest” after taking her to a “private confession.” Another woman accused Ndagizimana of forcing her head into his groin.

A third woman, who was pregnant at the time, reported he rubbed her thigh as she confessed and made her talk about her sex life. The lawsuit also stated the priest put his face in her chest at the end of the confession.

The diocese told at least one woman not to share her allegations, “indicating that if they did they could be exposed to legal action, such as defamation lawsuits,” the suit stated.

The Austin diocese is reviewing a copy of the litigation, spokesman Christian Gonzalez said in a statement Wednesday. Ndagizimana became pastor at a parish in north Austin in 2012, but resigned in 2017 and was placed on leave. He was assigned to a separate parish in July, but again was put on leave in August, Gonzalez said.

According to the litigation, the priest had been transferred to the other parish after the women came forward with the accusations.

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