Ex-Priest Gets Jail for Abusing Wife, Son

By Peggy Wright
Dail Record [New Jersey]
May 12, 2006

The former pastor of St. Virgil's Roman Catholic Church in Morris Township was handcuffed and sent to the Morris County jail this morning for 180 days for battering his wife in 2004 and touching a boy in a sexual way.

William L. Winston, 52, was confronted in a courtroom this morning by his wife, Janet, and his four children, who all emotionally said they wanted answers to why he served parishioners so well but treated his family with such contempt.

"We're very confused by this gigantic claim of alcoholism," Janet Winston said, referring to her husband's excuses that alcoholism accounted for his years of abuse. She said she tried to hang on to her marriage for years but was beaten down by 2004 when Winston knocked her to the floor of the rectory, kicked her and damaged her jaw.

"I wish it could have ended differently, but I held on till the bitter end," Janet Winston said.

Turning to face his wife and children in the courtroom, William Winston apologized repeatedly, saying he only meant to love his family and he realizes how he has failed as a father and husband.

"I do love you, I never meant to hurt you," he said, beginning to cry.

Superior Court Judge N. Peter Conforti said some incarceration was necessary, in part to send a message to the community that domestic violence and abuse of young children cannot be tolerated. Winston had pleaded guilty in February to twice beating up his wife and touching a child inappropriately when the boy, now 11, was between the ages of 4 and 7.

Winston is a former Episcopal priest who was allowed to be ordained as a Catholic priest after he was married and had children. His move to the Roman Catholic Church was the result of a Vatican decision in 1981 to allow married Episcopal priests to become Catholic priests. In the past 25 years, only about 80 married Episcopal priests nationwide have received a "pastoral provision" to become Catholic priests, according to the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C.


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