Critics Say Diocese Secretive about Accused Madison Priest's Past

By Tony Galli
May 22, 2018

Critics of the catholic Diocese of Madison's release of information on the past of a priest accused of child sex crimes say the diocese was secretive about what they knew.

After 64-year old William Nolan was arrested, criminally charged and released on bond in Jefferson County last week for allegedly sexually assaulting a Fort Atkinson altar boy in 2006, a statement from Bishop Robert Morlino on Nolan's past noted "...the Diocese had received no allegations of misconduct connected to any of his assignments."

But after 27 News reported Monday Janesville Police officials contacted the diocese about Nolan in 2015, a new statement from the diocese said the diocese was aware of the man who sparked Janesville's investigation into Nolan, because they had contact with the man twice in the past, but with no representation the priest had harmed the man. Diocese officials said the man had again contacted them Monday, this time with an accusation of sexual misconduct against Nolan.

"Their first statement about him - and it appears he has prior history - and they knew about this, and they didn't say it," says Peter Isely of the Wisconsin chapter of the Survivors Network Of Those Abused By Priests (SNAP). "They should have immediately been transparent," Isely says.

There was no arrest of Nolan in connection with the Janesville investigation. Janesville Police officials have yet to release reports on that investigation, or comment on investigation specifics.

A Florida man who's a friend of Nolan's potential victim says Morlino's original statement was more than carefully crafted. "It is an absolute lie." 27 News is not identifying the man to protect the identity of the potential victim.

A Diocese official stands by the accuracy of all statements made by the Bishop in the aftermath of Nolan's arrest.

Diocese spokesperson Brent King says Janesville Police's contact with the diocese was merely to get police personnel in touch with Nolan. "Nothing more was made known to us," King says.

But a portion of the Janesville Police reports obtained by 27 News state an employee of the Catholic Diocese of Madison told a detective "...She was very aware of the (possible victim) situation."

Coinciding with the criminal charges against the priest, several democratic gubernatorial candidates and others have urged support for a proposal called the Child Victim's Act.

The proposal would create a three year grace period for the filling of civil lawsuits by victims of childhood clergy sexual abuse, and other sexual abuse, even though their cases would be too old to adjudicate under current law.

Governor Walker Tuesday said he was supportive of the concept of removing barriers to child sex assault victims receiving justice and perpetrators being held accountable. Isely says Minnesota's recent passage of the proposal has led to the identification of offenders and restitution for victims.








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