“No one ever knew:” Prosecutor says Wisconsin priest concealed his child sex assaults

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JEFFERSON (WKOW) — “No one ever knew,” a prosecutor told jurors on the opening day of the trial of a priest charged with assaulting a 12-year-old altar boy in 2006.

William Nolan is facing six counts of child sexual assault in the trial that began Monday at the Jefferson County courthouse.

Nolan has denied the allegations, and in his opening statement, Nolan’s attorney Jonas Bednarek called the accuser a self-admitted “…thief, shoplifter … compulsive liar.”

According to investigators, a former altar boy told them the assaults allegedly happened over five years, when Nolan was serving at the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Fort Atkinson.

A Janesville man also accused Nolan of assaulting him in 2009, but after police investigated, they didn’t find enough evidence to support that accusation.

Before being accused in 2018, Nolan served in Madison’s Queen of Peace parish.

In her opening trial statement, Assistant Jefferson County District Attorney Brooke Teuber said the 26-year old accuser was emotionally vulnerable and conflicted over his sexual identity when Nolan used his position as a trusted clergyman to carry out the sexual assaults when the victim was a middle school altar boy.

Teuber said the boy was too young to consent to the sexual contact but willingly became involved with Nolan.

She conceded the victim has told lies during his life.  Bednarek said those included providing crime dates that conflict with Nolan’s tenure at St. Joseph’s Church.

“The lies…are absolutely exposed at this point,”  Bednarek said.  “This is simply not possible, all of these things that he’s alleging.”

Bednarek also said Nolan has a distinctive birth mark that someone in sexual contact with Nolan would be aware of, and that the accuser failed to include in any of his statements to police.

“But what about a sexual predator?  Aren’t they looking for liars? They’re seeking out someone who’s going to be willing to keep the secret,”  Teuber said.

Teuber said the victim was motivated to come forward more than a decade after the alleged assaults after watching the Academy Award-winning film Spotlight and its depiction of the priest sex scandal in Boston.

Nolan’s accuser is expected to take the witness stand Tuesday.

Nolan has pleaded not guilty to all six accounts.

Tony Galli

Tony Galli

Reporter, WKOW

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