AUSTIN, Texas - St. Thomas More Church is believed to be the last congregation in Austin where Father Isidore Ndgizimana was assigned until a year ago.
Thursday, Austin attorney Sean Breen was still trying to find the priest who is also known as Father Izzy. "Earlier in the history of this terrible book, Father Izzy when some of these allegations came to light, returned from a vacation in Uganda, and there is clearly a concern that may be something going on here, which would put him outside, theoretically, at least temporarily the reach of certain papers."
Breen represents six women who in a lawsuit have accused Father Izzy of abusive behavior. The allegations include unwanted kissing, groping, passionate embraces, inappropriate touching and cornering women while in a confessional.
Breen says since this case went public Wednesday more possible victims have come forward.
"The common denominator for all these victims here is a terrible feeling of isolation or guilt, even though they didn't do anything wrong and it has been such a relief for us to have been contacted by other women, some related to father Izzy and some related to other Priests,” said Breen.
The alleged misconduct was not limited to St. Thomas More where Father Izzy served from 2012 until 2017. Father Izzy worked at other area churches and according to the lawsuit the diocese had received earlier reports of inappropriate behavior.
In the lawsuit, church leaders are accused of not responding to complaints about Father Izzy. It claims some alleged victims were told he went to Houston for treatment and after 4 months was cured.
A high ranking church leader, in the lawsuit, is also accused of saying that current policy is more focused on stopping the abuse of children and the mentally ill. Breen says that policy should be updated to include priests who have inappropriate conduct with adults.
"I think most people are asking why doesn't the church realize what Century we are in now. These policies these archaic approaches they have to go. It’s time for a change,” said Breen.
Officials at the Austin Diocese released a statement to FOX 7.
According to a spokesperson, Father Izzy was placed on leave August 21st; but the reason why was not disclosed. Bishop Joe Vásquez, who is also named in the lawsuit, has requested to having a meeting with the alleged victims.
After seeing that invitation, Breen said they will be happy to meet if the bishop and the diocese are now ready to make real change. If not, Breen said they can meet in court.