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Trial begins for former Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting an altar boy

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The trial of former Catholic priest William Nolan began Monday with jury selection and opening arguments from both the prosecution and defense.

Nolan, 65, faces six felony counts of second-degree sexual assault of a child. A criminal complaint shows he’s accused of assaulting a boy more than 100 times from February 2006 to summer 2010. The alleged victim was 13 to 17 years old at the time of those sexual encounters.

Nolan was the priest at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church from 2002 to his retirement in 2007. Prior to that, he had tenures at parishes in Cambridge, Madison, Janesville and Watertown. Most recently, he lived at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Madison until he was arrested.

Monday, prosecutor Brookellen Tueber said the man accusing Nolan of abuse was a teenager who struggled with his faith and sexuality and needed attention. Tueber argued that Nolan took advantage of the teen's situation, and while the sexual encounters were consensual, they were still illegal.

“Now, the predator in Father Bill took advantage of a child who was never going to tell,” Tueber said in her opening statement, “a child who was willing to lie again and again to keep that secret because (the victim) had secrets of his own he didn't want to get out either.”

Nolan’s attorney, Jonas Bednarek, laid out multiple instances in which he claims the accuser has frequently changed details in his story. Bednarek also pointed out the fact that some of the alleged assaults happened after Nolan left St. Joseph’s. He told the jury to expect testimony from the principal and teachers at St. Joseph’s, where the alleged victim went to school.

“Nobody saw or heard a thing. You will not hear from one witness that says I saw anything suspicious occur at all,” Bednarek said.

The prosecution will call its first witness Tuesday morning.

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