Pastor Sanctioned in Wife Assault Case

By Maura McDermott
Star-Ledger (Newark, New Jersey)
November 18, 2004

A Superior Court judge granted a final restraining order yesterday barring the pastor of a Roman Catholic church from contacting his wife, whom he is accused of assaulting.

William Winston, 50, the pastor of St. Virgil's Roman Catholic Parish in Morris Township, acknowledged in court yesterday that the charges his wife made in a Nov. 2 complaint are true.

The complaint alleges that Winston threw his wife on the floor of their home at the rectory and kicked her, authorities said.

The pastor must stay away from the rectory, and he also must avoid the schools attended by their children, according to the order issued by Judge John Dangler.

The restraining order will remain in effect indefinitely, unless a judge dismisses it, according to the pastor's attorney, Paul Bangiola.

The couple have five children, three of whom live at home. Winston will pay monthly child support, and he is attending psychotherapy and Alcoholics Anonymous sessions, according to court testimony.

"There's no excuse or justification for my behavior," Winston told the judge in a barely audible statement at the end of the hearing. "I apologize to my wife . . . I don't want to cause her pain."

His wife will be permitted to live in the rectory with their children as long as the church allows it, and Winston will have weekly supervised visitation rights at a separate home, Dangler told the couple.

A "risk assessment" will determine whether Winston may have unsupervised visits with the children, Dangler said.

The pastor is due in municipal court next month for a separate, criminal trial on simple assault charges stemming from the same incident. The prosecutor's office is investigating to determine whether the charge should be upgraded to aggravated assault, authorities said.

Winston is on paid administrative leave while the case is being heard, and the diocese has not made a decision about what effect, if any, the proceedings will have on his standing as a priest, according to officials familiar with the case.

The Catholic Church normally does not allow priests to marry. However, married priests of other denominations who convert to Catholicism are allowed to remain married. Winston was ordained in the Anglican church before he became a Catholic priest.


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