Retired Wisconsin priest acquitted of sexual assault

Updated: 5:17 p.m. September 13, 2019

JEFFERSON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin jury on Friday acquitted a retired Catholic priest on charges alleging that he had sexually assaulted an altar boy over several years, starting in 2006.

The Jefferson County jury found William Nolan, 66, not guilty of five counts of sexual assault following a weeklong trial.

The 26-year-old accuser, who lives in California, alleged that Nolan had sexual contact with him as many as 100 times, starting in 2006 when he was a middle school student at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Fort Atkinson, which is about 45 miles (72 kilometers) west of Milwaukee. Nolan was the parish priest there. The accuser said the abuse continued into his high school years.

Nolan testified that he did not have any physical contact with the boy other than a friendly hug one time, WKOW-TV reported. He said that when he heard of the allegations from police in 2018, he was "mad, angry because it didn't happen."

The accuser testified that he had sexual contact with Nolan in his church office, behind the church altar, at his home and during a school cross-country team practice.

Nolan testified that the boy could not have gone to his office undetected by staff and others.

Assistant Jefferson County District Attorney Brook Teuber said the accuser had spoken about the alleged crimes with loved ones for years before he told police. She said Nolan's denials at trial were in stark contrast with his claims of failed memory when he was questioned by police detectives last year.

Teuber said that when Nolan was questioned by police, he said he couldn't recall if he had kissed his accuser.

Nolan's attorney, Jonas Bednarek, said key parts of the accuser's claims could not be corroborated, including the logistics of him leaving a school cross-country practice for an alleged meeting with the priest.

"This case is riddled with reasonable doubt," Bednarek said during closing arguments.

Posted: 10:57 September 11, 2019

JEFFERSON, Wis. (AP) — A man has testified he was sexually assaulted dozens of times by a Fort Atkinson priest when he was a young boy.

That priest, William Nolan, is on trial in Jefferson County for six counts on child sexual assault in a trial that began this week. His accuser, now 26, testified Tuesday that he knew as early as sixth grade that he was gay and said he was drawn to the good-looking, energetic priest.

The man, who was an altar boy at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, says he met weekly with Nolan for sexual encounters.

WKOW-TV reports the accuser testified he decided to contact police years later after watching the film Spotlight about Boston's priest sex abuse scandal. He testified he was concerned Nolan could have had contact with other children.

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