A New York-based Filipino priest named in a $25-million lawsuit filed by an alleged female lover in 2008 took his own life in April during a visit to the Philippines, the Filipino Reporter has learned.
Fr. Elvis Elano reportedly found it too much to bear after his family and community “shunned” and “despised” him over an alleged seven-month sexual liaison with a woman that resulted in the filing of a $25 million suit against him and his Queens parish.
In a suicide note dated April 11 and addressed to his sister, Elano, reportedly sought the forgiveness of the people he offended before hanging himself in his native Tabaco City in the province of Albay.
He reportedly flew to the Philippines in October 2011 to visit his ailing mother.
Elano’s attorneys, Filipino-American Tamara del Carmen, along with her partner Yovendra Mangal, of Del Carmen and Mangal, P.C., confirmed to the Reporter of their client’s death.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by the news of his passing,” said del Carmen. “This is a terrible tragedy.”
Del Carmen, whose law offices are located in Manhattan and Queens, said she didn’t believe her client was liable for any damage sought by Judith Rodrigues-Lytwyn when she filed the suit before the Brooklyn Supreme Court.
“There was nothing illegal that was alleged and that was our position,” the lawyer said.
She also said Elano was upbeat and optimistic the last time they spoke prior to his trip.
“We were positive the case will end up with a resolution in favor of our client,” del Carmen added. “We feel very strongly about our position.”
In court papers, Rodrigues-Lytwyn, who is not Filipino, said her alleged affair with Elano of Our Lady of the Snows Church in Glen Oaks, later caused her “severe stress, anxiety, guilt, fear, humiliation and shame.”
She claims Elano encouraged her to have sex with him as a way of “overcoming her pain associated with her husband.”
The suit says the “vulnerable” complainant was in the confessional in March 2008, revealing she was divorcing her allegedly abusive husband, when the priest began professing “his love, devotion and physical attraction” to her.
“I was going through a very rough period in my life and I was looking for some spiritual guidance, and finding some peace from a religious perspective,” Rodrigues-Lytwyn said. “And he essentially took advantage of that. I was overwhelmed by his advances. Once I got my head on straight, I realized that he preyed upon me.”
The lawsuit also named as defendants the Diocese of Brooklyn (which covers Queens), and Our Lady of the Snows, charging them negligence for failing to properly supervise Elano.
The complaint, which was first reported by thesmokinggun.com, was picked up by the mainstream media which printed embarrassing details found in the court documents.
“The news stories that came out were too much for him…. It’s the way it was published,” del Carmen said.
Elano’s family and friends learned about the scandal and “shunned” him.
While in the Philippines, he reportedly asked for their forgiveness, but to no avail.
“Yes, he asked that he be forgiven, but still he was shunned,” del Carmen said. “His sister said he was rejected and despised by everyone and we believe that was the reason that pushed him to do what he did.”
Elano’s suicide note was filled with remorse and sorrow.
“Tell mom and dad how sorry I am for leaving them,” he wrote. “Tell our brothers and sisters that I can’t bear our family problems anymore.”
“Tell our clan (relatives and friends) that by my death they will not be haunted anymore of the misfortune I brought them,” he added.
He also professed his love for the complainant.
“Tell Judith how much I loved her,” he wrote.
Report from Filipino Reporter