The Archdiocese of Hartford agreed to pay $500,000 to settle sexual abuse allegations against a Roman Catholic priest, Reverend Stephen Bzdyra. The victim, William Dotson, was abused by Bzdyra from 1985 to 1990. Dotson never spoke of the abuse he suffered from Bzdyra, until 2010 when he filed suit. Prior to the lawsuit, Bzdyra bribed Dotson with lavish gifts to keep him quiet. Dotson’s decision to file was prompted after Bzdyra “friended” Dotson’s son on Facebook.
The church removed Bzdyra from the priesthood after Dotson brought suit against him. The Archdiocese placed Bzdyra on administrative leave from his position as a pastor at St. Augustine Church in Seymour, Connecticut. Joel Faxon, Dotson’s attorney, stated that one comfort for the plaintiff was Bzdyra was taken out of circulation. Faxon said “this is the only time in my 20-year career where we were able to actually have a pedophile priest put on the shelf – which protected any number of children from potential abuse.”
For the past five years, the archdiocese contested liability and denied any knowledge of physical and sexual abuse that Bzdyra committed. However, a Catholic nun testified she witnessed Bzdyra’s improper behavior toward an altar boy and alerted the diocesan authorities through a letter. Additionally, another witness gave evidence of similar sexual abuse by Bzdyra when the witness was a young boy.
Dotson is one of at least three victims to file sexual abuse claims against Bzdyra. In his allegations, Dotson detailed the abuse he endured which included rape and oral sex. Victims of sexual abuse, particularly children, often struggle with years of therapy in an effort to regain a normal life. In many cases, such as William Dotson’s, recovery of compensatory damages in a lawsuit may not be limited to the abuser. People and organizations that put child molesters in positions of power can be held responsible.
If you or someone you know may have been sexually abused, harassed or molested, it is important to understand your right to recover. Contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 800-594-4884 for a confidential consultation.