Seymour Priest Suspended after Sexual Assualt Charges

By Quannah Leonard
Waterbury Republican-American
July 10, 2010

A Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a New Haven man when he was an altar boy in the 1980s and bribing him with gifts to keep silent has been suspended.

The Rev. John Gatzak, director of communications for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford, said a letter was sent by Archbishop Henry J. Mansell to the Rev. Stephen Bzdyra on Thursday placing him on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the recent allegations.

"We are asking anyone with information relevant to these allegations to contact the Archdiocese of Hartford," Gatzak said.

William Dotson, 34, filed a lawsuit Wednesday in New Haven Superior Court against Bzdyra.

The alleged abuse occurred from around 1985 to 1990 and took place not only at St. Francis Church in New Haven, where Dotson served as an altar boy, but also at St. Hedwig Church in Naugatuck and at a New Haven home owned by Bzdyra, said Dotson's attorney, Joel T. Faxon of New Haven.

Representatives of the archdiocese have contacted Bzdyra as he is leading a pilgrimage in Europe, Gatzak said. He was informed that he is on administrative leave and is not to return to the parish of St. Augustine Church. He also will not perform his ministry while on leave.

Mansell based his decision solely upon the allegations in the lawsuit, Gatzak said.

It's policy of the archdiocese when allegations are received to place the priest on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation, he said.

In the case of Bzdyra, it would have been done immediately if he wasn't out of the country, Gatzak said.

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