Friday, July 9, 2010

Victims blast CT archbishop over "recklessness"

Victims blast CT archbishop over "recklessness"

Statement by David Clohessy, director of SNAP, 314 566 9790

This is a stunning, recklessly callous and stubborn move by Hartford’s Catholic archbishop. Whatever happened to the notion of putting the safety of kids first and erring on the side of caution in child sex reports?

Remember: this isn’t some vague, short, anonymous letter quietly slipped at midnight under the chancery door. It’s risen to the level of a civil lawsuit brought by a man who’s voluntarily disclosing his name and is represented by an experienced, credible attorney.

There’s one simple, crucial question here for the archbishop: Why take unnecessary risks with the well-being of children? And a related question for Connecticut Catholics: What will you do about this irresponsible stubbornness by your professed “shepherd?”

This kind of insensitivity by church officials deters more victims and witnesses and whistleblowers from stepping forward. “Why speak up,” they wonder, “when bishops keep acting like they always have?”

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We've been around for 22 years and have more than 9,000 members across the country. Despite the word "priest" in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is

Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Peter Isely (414-429-7259,) Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell)

Priest accused of sexual assault to remain at Seymour church for now


SEYMOUR -- A Roman Catholic priest who has been accused of sexually abusing a New Haven man in the 1980s will remain at St. Augustine Church while Catholic leaders investigate the charges, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford said.

The Rev. Stephen Bzdyra is out of the country leading a pilgrimage, said the Rev. John Gatzak, director of communications for the archdiocese. Representatives of the archdiocese are trying to get in touch Bzdyra regarding the recent accusations, Gatzak said.

On Thursday, the archdiocese received notification of a lawsuit filed Wednesday in New Haven Superior Court by William Dotson, 34. Dotson, a father of three young children, alleges that Bzdyra sexually abused him when he was an altar boy and bribed him with gifts to keep quiet.

Gatzak said Bzdyra will remain an active priest assigned to St. Augustine Church until the archdiocese can determine whether there is credibility to the recent accusations. Bzdyra was ordained in 1979.

In this matter, the archdiocese received no advance indication of the complaint, and had no opportunity to do any investigation, he said.

Generally, when a complaint is received, the archdiocese is notified that some type of inappropriate activity may have taken place, Gatzak said. The individual lodging the complaint would be invited to talk to Sister Mary Kelly, the victim assistance coordinator for the archdiocese.

If the allegation is found credible, the priest would be removed from his ministry, and never allowed to return, Gatzak said.

"In this particular case, Father Bzdyra should be considered innocent until proven guilty," Gatzak said.

To read the complete story see Friday's Republican-American or our electronic edition at

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