|Suit Alleges Sexual Abuse by Ct Priest
By Keith Kountz
July 7, 2010
New Haven, Connecticut (WTNH) - A former New Haven man has filed a lawsuit against a Connecticut priest and the Archdiocese of Hartford alleging years of sexual abuse while he was an altar boy.
William Dotson claims the abuse he suffered at the hands of a man he called “Father Steve” led to years of relationship problems and trouble dealing with authority.
Dotson claims Father Stephen Byzdra sexual abused him at two local churches and at other locations in the area. He says the abuse began when he was a student at St. Francis School in New Haven, when he was 10 or 11 years of age.
Plaintiff William Dotson stated, “I guess I told Father Steve a lie. I don't remember the lie, but he took me into the school, went downstairs in the basement and told me to pull down my pants and he spanked me.”
The now 34-year old Dotson claims that was the first time Reverend Steven Bzdrya sexually abused him. He claims over a three or four year period Father Steve also abused him at St. Hedwig's Church in Naugatuck, a friend's home and other locations.
Dotson tells News 8 he was intimidated into silence by the pastor's threats.
“He knew my mother was collecting welfare and she would do odds and ends. I guess you couldn't do that back then,” William Dotson said. “He'd said he'd put a complaint in and I'll never see her again.”
Dotson claims, even after the abuse stopped, Bzdrya continued to be a part of his life buying him two cars -- showing News 8 the bill of sale to prove the point -- in addition to a washer and dryer and even giving him cash.
“I had a family at the time. He saw what situation we were in and I'm pretty sure he did it to keep me quiet,” Dotson continued.
News 8’s Keith Kountz asked him why now, why file this suit so many years after the allegedly abuse?
Dotson, who now lives in Florida, says the man who he says has caused him so much pain tried to contact his son.
“Most recently I found he was friends with my son on Facebook, and my son was coming up here,” he explained. “And I couldn't risk mine or any other children anymore.”
Also named in the lawsuit -- in addition to the two churches where Bzydra served -- is the Archdiocese of Hartford.
Attorney Joel Faxon stated, “Ultimately what we will seek from the jury is punitive damages from Bzydra and compensation from the Archdiocese that they permitted him to engage in these horrible activities.”
News 8 called the parish in Seymour where Father Bzydra now works looking for a comment. We were directed to get in touch with the Hartford Archdiocese.
Their spokesman says, that as of 4:30 Wednesday afternoon, he had not seen any paperwork regarding this civil suit. Although he would not speak about any specifics regarding this case, he tdid tell News 8’s Keith Kountz the Diocese takes major steps to ensure that anyone working or volunteering with the church goes through an extensive background check to make sure they're fit to work with children.
He also says, as far as he knows, Reverend Bzydra is a good pastor who is well-liked by his congregation.
Also, according to documents from the Catholic Committee on Scouting, Reverend Bzdrya is now its committee chaplain.
The complaint was filed in Civil Court but Dotson's attorney says there is still the possibility that a criminal complaint may also be filed at some point.
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