Archdiocese settles sex abuse lawsuit
By Daniel Tepfer
February 10, 2016
NEW HAVEN — The Archdiocese of Hartford has agreed to pay $500,000 to settle a sex abuse allegation against a New Haven priest, the lawyers for the plaintiff announced Wednesday.
The settlement was reached just weeks before the civil trial was to begin.
The Rev. Stephen Bzdyra was accused in a lawsuit of sexually molesting an altar boy between 1985 and 1990 at St. Francis Church in New Haven and St. Hedwig Church in Naugatuck.
Bzdyra was placed on administrative leave by the archdiocese in 2010.
“One source of comfort for the plaintiff is that upon commencement of this case, the diocese took Bzdyra out of circulation, as he was a fully active priest until that time,” said the plaintiff’s lawyer, Joel T. Faxon. “This is the only time in my 20-year career where we were able to actually have a pedophile priest put on the shelf — which protected any number of children from potential abuse.”
For the past five years, Faxon said the archdiocese contested liability, denying knowledge of sexual and physical abuse that was committed by Bzdyra.
He said the defense was compromised when a Catholic nun testified that while serving at St. Francis Church in New Haven, she not only witnessed Bzdyra’s disturbing and inappropriate behavior toward an altar boy in the mid-1980s, but she even sent a letter to diocesan authorities expressing her deep concerns.