JEFFERSON (WKOW) — A Jefferson County jury Friday found a Catholic priest not guilty of the repeated sexual assault of an altar boy in Fort Atkinson in 2006.
William Nolan, 66, was charged with five counts of child sexual assault in the trial that began Monday at the Jefferson County courthouse.
The judge polled each of the nine men and ten women of the jury, who confirmed the verdict. They had deliberated four hours.
“I knew I was telling the truth,” Nolan said of his confidence jurors would acquit him of the alleged crimes.
During trial, a now 26-year old California man said when he was a teenage middle school altar boy at St. Joseph’s Church and School, he knew he was gay, and welcomed as many as one hundred sexual encounters with the priest. He testified they took place at the priest’s home, behind the church altar and even during a school cross country team practice.
“I knew there were gaps, and there were so many inconsistencies with the accuser’s stories, I felt that that would eventually be discovered,” Nolan said after the verdict.
Nolan said he’s prepared to not harbor resentment against his accuser.
“I’m a Catholic priest and I’m supposed to forgive, and I think I can do that,” Nolan said.
“But I’ll never forget…the way he has ruined my life.”
“He and our family have been through hell dealing with these false accusations,” Nolan’s sister, Janet Masters said.
“I know he’s a hugger and that’s good, too, because he reached out to so many people,” 100-year old Berdine Fiebiger said. Nolan presided over Fiebiger’s second marriage. “I never lost confidence he was going to be exonerated.”
The accuser declined comment after the verdict, as did the case’s prosecutor, Assistant Jefferson County District Attorney Brook Teuber.
Madison’s Catholic Diocese officials will have to decide Nolan’s role going forward. He said he would like to resume priestly duties, but will be cautious about his actions.
“I’m…going to be very careful of not being alone with any young person. And it’s a sad commentary, but I think it has to be that way,” Nolan said.
— Tony Galli (@galli_wkow) September 13, 2019