Seymour Priest Accused of Sex Abuse Placed on Leave

By Lauren Garrison
Middletown Press
July 9, 2010

The Rev. Stephen Bzdyra, who is accused of sexually molesting an altar boy in the 1980s in a lawsuit filed this week, has been placed on administrative leave by the Archdiocese of Hartford, a spokesman confirmed Friday.

“A letter was sent yesterday by Archbishop Henry Mansell placing Father Bzdyra on administrative leave pending the completion of an investigation into the allegations,” said the Rev. John P. Gatzak, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Hartford.

Bzdyra has been serving at St. Augustine Church in Seymour. The misconduct alleged in the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday by William Dotson of New Haven, occurred between 1985 and 1990 at St. Francis Church in New Haven and St. Hedwig Church in Naugatuck.

Gatzak said Bzdyra is in Europe leading a scheduled pilgrimage. He said the archdiocese has been trying to get in touch with him, but is having difficulty doing so.

Joel Faxon, the lawyer representing Dotson, responded Friday afternoon to Bzdyra being placed on leave, saying, “That’s an appropriate action on their part.”

He later added, “What that will do is serve to protect the children of Connecticut from this man.”

Gatzak previously told the Register that it is typical in cases of alleged abuse by a priest for a board of lay people to investigate the claims being made and make a determination as to how to move forward.On Friday, he said it “is up to the archbishop to determine how the investigation will proceed.”

The lawsuit claims that Bzdyra “repeatedly sexually molested William Dotson and forced himself onto William Dotson ... (and) would physically assault and injure William Dotson.”

The suit further claims Bzdyra “forced William Dotson into illegal drug use when the plaintiff was a minor and continuing after that time leading to frequent employment terminations.”

Faxon said Bzdyra gave Dotson cash, liquor, two cars and a washer and dryer.

He said Bzdyra also threatened to turn in Dotson’s single mother, who was on government assistance, to the Department of Children and Families if Dotson said anything about the abuse.

The lawsuit says Dotson has suffered “severe pain and bodily intrusion and severe emotional intrusion, some or all of which may be permanent.” He has also incurred expenses related to counseling and therapy, as well as lost wages, employment and career opportunities, the suit claims.

Named as defendants in the suit are Bzdyra; the Hartford Roman Catholic Diocesan Corp.; St. Francis Church in New Haven; and St. Hedwig Church in Naugatuck.


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