Former Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting altar boy 100+ times found not guilty

JEFFERSON, Wis. - After a five-day trial in Jefferson County court, the jury found former Catholic priest William Nolan not guilty on five counts of sexual assault of a child. 

Closing arguments in the case against Nolan, 66, began in Jefferson County court Friday morning, and the case was turned over to the jury for deliberation. The jury returned the verdict in about four hours. 



According to the criminal complaint, he was accused of assaulting a boy more than 100 times from February 2006 to the summer of 2010. The alleged victim was 13 to 17 years old at the time of the sexual encounters.



Nolan was facing six felony counts. The trial began Monday. The judge dropped one count against him Thursday. 

Nolan took the stand in his own defense Thursday, testifying that the accusations make him angry because the assaults didn't happen. He said he was "dumbfounded" to learn of the allegations and that in 2018, when a police detective came to the church where he was practicing, he gave her a hug before realizing who she was and why she was there.

The accuser testified that sexual encounters between him and Nolan happened at the church, at Nolan's home, which was the rectory owned by the church, and at multiple public places.



The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Brookellen Teuber, argued that the accuser, who was 13 years old at the time, was struggling with his sexuality, and his first sexual experience was with Nolan. Teuber said the boy found comfort with Nolan.



Nolan's attorney, Jonas Bednarek, said the witnesses didn't show "a single bit of corroboration" with the accuser's story of what happened. He said no witnesses testified that they ever saw Nolan and the accuser alone with each other or sneak off together.

Throughout the trial, the defense and prosecutor pointed out multiple examples where witness stories changed, or they couldn't remember specific details when asked about events that happened in the mid-2000s.

Bednarek said the fact that the accuser got dates and times mixed up shows “his propensity for untruthfulness.” 

Teuber said just because "details are off" doesn't mean the alleged incidents didn't happen.


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