Six women are suing the Catholic Diocese of Austin and a priest for years of alleged sexual harassment and abuse.
The women name Father Isidore Ndagizimana in their suit. They say he made unwanted sexual advances and isolated them -- holding the women against their will.
This reportedly happened while they were attending Austin's St. Thomas More Catholic Church off FM 620 in Northwest Austin.
The suit says Ndagizimana, also known as "Father Izzy," was transferred to a parish in Brenham after the women brought the allegations to light.
According to the suit, the women behind the lawsuit are mothers, wives and active parish volunteers.
The women claimed that they were told they didn't need to take legal action against Father Izzy or the church and that they should trust the diocese to handle the situation.
This comes about a month after more than a dozen Catholic bishops in Texas announced they'd release the names of clergy who have been credibly accused of child sexual assault.
Christian R. González, communications director for the Diocese of Austin, released the following statement:
The Diocese of Austin was made aware this afternoon that a lawsuit was filed today in which unnamed plaintiffs make allegations against Rev. Isidore Ndagizimana, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez and the Diocese of Austin. The Diocese of Austin is currently reviewing a copy of the lawsuit. Bishop Vásquez is currently attending a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C. and has not had an opportunity to review the lawsuit. However, upon being notified of the lawsuit’s filing, Bishop Vásquez authorized the extension of an invitation to meet with the unnamed plaintiffs. He also extends his prayers for the unnamed plaintiffs.
It is difficult for the diocese to respond to the allegations because of the lack of specificity in the lawsuit. A response at this time would require the diocese to make assumptions about the allegations and the unnamed plaintiffs. Out of respect for all those involved, the diocese will respond to the allegations in its answer to the court after it is formally served with the lawsuit and had a reasonable time to investigate the claims.
Father Isidore Ndagizimana became pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Austin on July 2, 2012. He resigned that position on Oct. 9, 2017, and was placed on leave. He returned from leave and was then assigned to St. Mary Parish in Brenham on July 2, 2018 as an associate pastor (where the priests also serve the churches in Somerville and Old Washington on the Brazos). He was again placed on leave Aug. 21, 2018, and he remains on leave at this time.
"Somebody is going to fix the catholic church or these women are committed to letting a Texas jury tell them it's going to be fixed," said Sean Breen, the attorney from the lawsuit.