Former priest found not guilty of child sexual assault charges

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JEFFERSON, Wis. (WMTV) - A jury in Jefferson County has found a former priest, charged with molesting an altar boy 10 years ago, not guilty on all counts Friday.

Rev. William Nolan, 66, was accused of sexually assaulting an altar boy at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Fort Atkinson over several years starting in 2006. He pleaded not guilty to five felony counts of sexual assault of a child.

The jury started deliberating around 10:30 a.m. Friday, and it took them about four hours to make their ruling.

After embracing with family, Nolan told reporters that the alleged victim's stories were inconsistent.

"They knew I was telling the truth and there were so many gaps and inconsistencies in the accusers stories," Nolan said.

Nolan and his family members said they can finally move forward now the trial is over.

"I'm a catholic priest I'm supposed to forgive, I think I can do that, but I wile never forget the way he has ruined my life," Nolan said.

Earlier Friday both sides gave their closing arguments.

In court this week, Nolan denied the allegations and said "it didn't happen." Nolan testified for nearly two and a half hours.

The alleged victim told the court that he was never forced to participate in the reported sexual encounters that allegedly happened during a trip to Tyrol Basin, in school, at his church, and in Nolan’s home.

NBC15 has chosen not to identify the alleged victim, now 26 years old, in order to protect his privacy.

The alleged victim says the acts with the retired priest happened at least 100 times.

"I just remember we kind of had that connection whether it was verbal or non-verbal," the alleged victim says. "We both knew we weren’t going to tell anyone about it.”

Nolan has also served at churches in Madison, Watertown and Janesville.

"We have been through a lot, and today he deserved everything he has been paying for the last 15 months. We are all so proud of him, we love him, we are a strong family," said Nolan's niece, Cari Kazik.

Nolan said he will speak with the diocese about getting re-established in the church.