Diocese: Claims against retired Wisconsin priest uncredible

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Sexual misconduct allegations made against a retired Wisconsin Catholic priest who was acquitted last year on charges he sexually assaulted an altar boy are not credible, the Diocese of Madison said.

The diocese announced Saturday that William Nolan will return to his previous status as a retired priest of the Madison Diocese “in good standing.” The announcement comes after the church's investigation into two separate allegations made against Nolan and his acquittal during a weeklong trial in September on charges that he sexually assaulted an altar boy over several years, starting in 2006.

Bishop Donald Hying said Nolan is owed "the presumption of innocence and right to a good name," especially after his acquittal and the lack of evidence found in support of the allegations against him. Nolan will be allowed to minister publicly as a priest again, the diocese said.

Nolan formerly presided over a parish in Fort Atkinson, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) west of Milwaukee. The Diocesan Sexual Abuse Review Board began its investigation after Nolan's acquittal on charges involving the altar boy, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

The other allegation, which the review board also looked into, involved a single incident with a 21-year-old man in 2012, the diocese said.

Both claims were made public in May 2018, and Nolan had been on leave since.

The board decided unanimously that there is no credibility for either of the allegations after finding “significant inconsistencies” that included "impossibilities involving timing and location in one of the allegations."

The church's investigation involved several interviews, police and church files and other materials collected from the trial, the diocese said.

As is normal for retired priests in the diocese, Nolan will not have any parish assignment. He said he will not seek "any public ministry in a parish setting," according to the diocese.