New Haven Man Files Lawsuit against Seymour Priest

By Eugene Driscoll
Valley Independent Sentinel
July 7, 2010

A New Haven man filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday against a Seymour priest, claiming the Rev. Stephen Bzdrya raped him while he was an altar boy in the 1980s.

William Dotson, 34, claims the abuse started at St. Francis Church in New Haven, where Bzdyra was a priest.

Bzdrya is a priest at St. Augustine Church in Seymour. He is in Germany this week, according to his Facebook page. An e-mail seeking comment was sent to Bzdrya.

A call for comment was left with the spokesman for the Hartford Archdiocese.

Dotson’s attorney, Joel T. Faxon of Stratton Faxon in New Haven, said the abuse started in a church basement after catechism class, where Bzdyra accused the boy of lying.

Faxon claims the priest whipped him with a belt before raping him.

Dotson was about 10 years old at the time of the alleged assault. Dotson’s mother was on public assistance at the time. Faxon said that in order to keep Dotson quiet, the priest threatened to report her to the authorities for violating public assistance regulations.

The priest was also close with Dotson’s family, Faxon said, which allowed the abuse to continue until about 1990.

He purchased a used car for Dotson, in addition to buying him a washer and dryer, all in an effort to buy Dotson’s silence, Faxon said.

The lawsuit claims the Archdiocese “knew or should have known” about Bzdrya’s activities.

“What the diocese did, like others in Bridgeport, Hartford, Norwich and other places around the country and around the world, was to move this pedophile around. Their idea of a fresh start was a new group of children,” Faxon said.

Dotson is now unemployed and has a history of drug and alcohol abuse, which can be attributed to his experience with Bzdrya, Faxon said.

Dotson has three children. He said he decided to go public with the accusations and lawsuit because Bzdrya recently tried to “friend” one of Dotson’s children on Facebook.

“Will said ‘That’s it. This has got to end, because he is going to continue to attack children,’” Faxon said.

When asked whether the lawsuit is merely Dotson’s word against that of a long-serving Catholic priest, Faxon said Bzdrya’s behaviors match other priests who have been accused of molesting kids.

The lawsuit was filed against Bzdyra, the Hartford Roman Catholic Diocese Corp., St. Francis Church in New Haven, St. Hedwig Church in Naugatuck.

The Naugatuck church is named because some of the molestations are alleged to have happened while Bzdyra was there.

The lawsuit asks for at least $15,000 in damages. Reckless battery and negligence are among the counts alleged by Dotson.

A copy of the lawsuit is posted below.


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