Verdict could come as soon as Thursday in child sexual assault trial of retired priest

With only two witnesses left to testify in the trial of a retired priest, the case will likely be turned over to the jury Thursday for deliberation.

Wlliam Nolan, 65, faces six felony counts of second-degree sexual assault of a child. The accuser, now 26, said Nolan sexually assaulted him more than 100 times between February 2006 and summer 2010.

The accuser testified Tuesday. He said when the sexual encounters started, he was a 13-year-old altar boy at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and Nolan was the parish’s priest.

The defense attorneys are not saying whether Nolan will testify Thursday.

At least 10 witnesses took the stand Wednesday in Jefferson County court, including the accuser’s brother, childhood friend and therapist and a longtime family friend of Nolan.

Day 3 of the trial of retired priest Father William Nolan has wrapped up for the day in Jefferson County court. We heard from multiple witnesses, including the accuser’s brother and coach, and a church youth group leader who is a longtime family friend of Nolan. #news3now

— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) September 11, 2019

Lois Fritz said she has known Nolan for 25 years, and she served as a youth group leader and confirmation director at the church while the accuser attended. She testified that she only worked part-time at the church but could not remember a time when Nolan had been left alone with any children at the church.

“Did you ever see Father Nolan and (the victim) in a situation that you would deem suspicious now in light of the information that you know the state is alleging against Mr. Nolan?” Nolan’s attorney, Jonas Bednarek, asked in court Wednesday.

“Never,” Fritz said.

The accuser’s brother told the jury he remembered his brother being closer to Nolan than the other children. He described the moment in either 2016 or 2017 when his brother told him about the allegations from the mid-2000s.

“Did he tell you the time frame where this took place?” asked Jefferson County Assistant District Attorney Brookellen Teuber.

“Middle school,” the accuser’s brother said.

“And when you said he told you how often it took place, did he give you a number?” Teuber asked.

“Yeah, he gave it to me. Around 200 times,” the accuser’s brother responded.

Bednarek argued that a number of details in the accuser’s and witnesses’ stories have changed. He questioned the accuser’s brother about a statement he gave to police in which he said the sexual encounters happened between 79 and 200 times.

The accuser’s former therapist, Mary Kay Haupt, told the jury the accuser talked about the allegations and Nolan during almost every therapy session when she counseled him while he was in college.

Haupt said the accuser came to her seeking help in dealing with financial troubles, his academic conduct and self-esteem and confidence issues.

The defense also questioned Haupt about how the accuser “catfished” someone while in college. Nolan’s attorney referenced Haupt’s session notes in which the accuser reportedly called himself “fake,” “phony” and “a compulsive liar.”

“He wanted to learn what it would be like to be more authentic and honest with himself,” Haupt responded.

A childhood and high school friend of the accuser, Tyler Zaspel, told the jury the accuser accidentally revealed the allegations to him while Zaspel was visiting the accuser.

“I didn’t want to try to force him to tell me anything that he didn’t want to, and then it kind of caught me off guard, as well,” Zaspel said.

Zaspel said the accuser told him the first time he had a sexual encounter with Nolan was on a church-related ski trip. The accuser said during his testimony Tuesday that his first sexual encounter with Nolan was at Nolan’s home.

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