The Archdiocese of Hartford released the names of 48 priests “credibly accused” of abuse Tuesday, Jan. 22, 13 of whom had worked in local churches throughout their careers.
The 48 priests were the subjects of 146 lawsuits ultimately costing the diocese more than $56 million.
One of the most well-known cases involved the Rev. Stephen Bzdyra who was an assistant pastor at St. Stanislaus Church in Meriden from November 1979 through September 1985 and later served for four years at Saints Peter and Paul Church in Wallingford before being reassigned in 1999.
Bzdyra also served as a chaplain at Cheshire Correctional Institute and at churches in Naugatuck, Waterbury, New Haven, Guilford, Suffield, Hamden, Milford and Seymour. Bzdyra has had at least three lawsuits filed against him by men claiming he sexually molested them as children.
According to one 2010 federal lawsuit, a man identified as PK met Bzdyra at St. Stanislaus Church where his family attended Mass in the early 1980s, before moving to California.
According to the lawsuit, Bzdyra traveled to California to meet him between 1980 and 1983. Bzdyra allegedly abused PK and provided “rewards and other inducements to plaintiff to prolong their relationship,” according to court documents.
The lawsuit, along with two other cases involving Bzdyra, was later settled by the archdiocese. Bzdyra was suspended from his pastorship at St. Augustine in Seymour in July 2010, and was laicized in May 2017, meaning he was “dismissed from the clerical state,” and can no longer perform Mass, or other clergy functions.
The Rev. Edward Ziemnicki, current pastor of St. Stanislaus and Ss. Peter and Paul, could not be reached for comment Jan. 22. The churches were combined in an archdiocese reorganization two years ago.
Also on the list was the Rev. Stephen Crowley, who served as assistant pastor of St. Bridget Church in Cheshire. Crowley was ordained in 1955 and removed from the ministry in 2002 and sentenced to a life of “prayer and penance” by the Holy See in 2015. He died in 2016.
The Rev. Thomas Glynn, who served as an administrator and pastor at Holy Trinity Church in Wallingford was among those named in a 2005, $22 million settlement paid by the archdiocese. Glynn, who was ordained in 1938, was also a pastor emeritus at St. Joseph Church in Meriden. He died in 1993.
Current pastor of Holy Trinity the Rev. Andrés Mendoza Floyd could not be reached for comment.
According to media reports, Glynn repeatedly plied altar boys with alcohol and drugs and then sexually assaulted them. He retired in 1989.
Edward Hyland was ordained in 1967 and served as a temporary assistant pastor at Holy Trinity in Wallingford. He was removed from the ministry in 2002 and laicized in 2016.
The Rev. Felix Maguire served as the pastor of St. Theresa Church in North Haven from 1987 to 1992. Maguire was removed from the ministry in 1994 following an arrest in 1993 on charges of fourth-degree sexual assault, according to media reports.
Claims against Maguire were included in the 2005 settlement against the archdiocese.
Claims against William Przybylo were also part of the $22 million settlement. Przbylo was an assistant pastor at Ss. Peter and Paul in Wallingford and the spiritual director at St. Paul High School in Bristol. Przybylo was removed from ministry in 2008 and sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Holy See in Rome in November 2015, according to the archidiocese.
Former pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Meriden, George Raffaeta also appeared on the list. He was removed from the ministry in in 2002 and died in 2010.
Kenneth Shiner, a former assistant pastor at Our Lady of Fatima in Yalesville, was the subject of a lawsuit stating he sexually abused a minor while serving as co-pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in New Britain. from 1980 to 1984. He was removed from ministry in 2001 and laicized on April 29, 2016.
Peter Zizka, who was ordained in 1975 served as a temporary assistant at St. Bridget in Cheshire. He was removed from ministry in 1999 and laicized in 2001.
Others include Edward Muha, an assistant pastor of Our Lady of Mercy in Plainville. He died in 2002 before the single claim against him was received in 2004.
John T. O’Connor an assistant pastor at St. Thomas in Southington and pastor emeritus at St. Dominic in Southington was also named. O’Connor died in 2003 before any claims against him were received.
Raymond Paul, an assistant pastor at St. Barnabas in North Haven and at St. Paul in Kensington, was removed from ministry in 1996 and died in 2008.
The archdiocese also released the names of priests from other dioceses and ministries. To date, there were 142 cases settled of which 98 percent were for allegations that occurred before 1990.
Of the $50.6 million, $26.1 million was paid from insurance and $24.5 million the the General Reserve Fund of the Archdiocese.
Many of the clergy members were the subject of civil lawsuits. The criminal statute of limitations had expired before most of the incidents became known, according to a press statement from the diocese. In the last 20 years, two priests were criminally charged and prosecuted.
The Archdiocese has hired retired state Superior Court Judge Antonio Robaina to conduct an independent investigation into claims of sexual abuse by clergy members and to detail the Archdiocese's response, said the archbishop.
"For the Catholic Church this is a very challenging time inasmuch as the great crime and sin of sexual abuse continues to cast a very dark cloud over the Church's leadership and her clergy," Blair said.