Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse Is Suspended

Hartford Courant
July 9, 2010,0,1467140.story

Roman Catholic officials say they have suspended a pastor accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing an altar boy in the 1980s and trying to buy his silence with bribes and threats.

The Rev. John Gatzak, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Hartford, said Friday that the Rev. Stephen Bzdyra was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. He said Bzdyra is on a pilgrimage in Europe but will not return to St. Augustine Church in Seymour as pastor and will not function as a priest while on leave.

Bzdyra has referred comment to the archdiocese.

Thirty-four-year-old William Dotson made the allegations against Bzdyra in a lawsuit filed this week in New Haven. The Associated Press generally does not name victims of sexual assault, but Dotson's attorney, Joel Faxon, said his client wanted to come forward.

The lawsuit alleges Bzdyra whipped and raped Dotson, an altar boy, after catechism class when he was 10 and molested him repeatedly in the rectory and church where Bzdyra served at the time. It accuses the priest of paying hush money, such as buying Dotson a washer and dryer and a car, and threatening to report Dotson's mother to the welfare department for having too many jobs if he revealed the abuse, saying he would be taken away from his family.

Faxon said earlier in the week he might seek criminal charges against the priest but said Friday after talking to prosecutors it appeared a statue of limitations had expired.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.