Former Altar Boy Accuses Seymour Priest of Abusing Him

By Dave Altimari
Hartford Courant
July 7, 2010,0,7939015.story

A 34-year-old man filed a lawsuit Wednesday accusing the current pastor at a Roman Catholic Church in Seymour of molesting him when he was a teenage altar boy and then trying to buy his silence with new cars and home appliances.

The lawsuit, filed in New Haven, alleges that the Rev. Stephen Bzdyra, the pastor at St. Augustine Church in Seymour, abused William Dotson starting in the mid-1980s when Dotson was an altar boy at St. Francis Church in New Haven.

The Archdiocese of Hartford said that it had not been served with the lawsuit and knew about it only from media reports.

The lawsuit alleges that the abuse started one day after catechism class at St. Francis when Dotson was 10. It alleges that Bzdyra took Dotson into the basement and accused him of telling a lie during the class. Bzdyra then pulled down Dotson's pants, whipped him with his belt and anally raped him, the lawsuit said. The priest told Dotson that if he told anyone, he would report Dotson's mother to the welfare department for "having too many jobs" and he would be taken away by the state, never to see his family again.

Dotson claims that the abuse continued even after Bzdyra moved to become the pastor at St. Hedwig's Church in Naugatuck. Dotson never told anyone about the abuse at the time because the priest was close to his family, particularly his mother, he said.

New Haven attorney Joel Faxon, who represents Dotson, said Bzdyra was so fearful Dotson would reveal the abuse that he bribed him with "hush money" and bought him cars and a washer and dryer. As part of the lawsuit, Faxon submitted the bill of sale for a 1999 Ford Taurus that was purchased by Bzdyra for $21,481 from Bob Thomas Ford in May 2001, records show. Dotson is listed as the co-buyer.

"Bzdyra carefully preyed on children who he knew would be vulnerable targets, a characteristic of any abusive pedophile,'' Faxon said. "Knowing that Mrs. Dotson was a hard-working, single mother, Bzdyra first infiltrated the family as a friend and father figure and then used their trust and faith against them to fulfill his own sick and twisted sexual desires."

Dotson is married and the father of three children. He finally decided to go public with his allegations after telling his mother about it. Faxon said Dotson is concerned for children at St. Augustine's.

Bzdyra could not be reached for comment.

Father John Gatzak, spokesman for the archdiocese, spokesman criticized the law firm for "practicing law through the media."

"Apparently it was more important for them to inform the media that it was to actually properly serve the legal papers on the diocese,'' he said.

Gatzak said the diocese has opened an investigation into the allegations. He said that Bzdyra is an active priest and that there have never been any allegations against him.

"This comes as a complete shock," Gatzak said.



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