U.K. priest secretly married, court hears 0
A trial of a Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl in northern England took a shocking turn Thursday when the accused cleric told jurors that he had been secretly married for more than a decade.
Father William Finnegan, a 59-year-old Roman Catholic priest who served at Saint Clare’s RC Church in Bradford, U.K., told jurors that even though he’s bound by a vow of celibacy, he’s been married since 1999, reports The Guardian.
The priest defended himself by stating that he couldn’t have sexually assaulted the teen because he was enjoying a healthy sex life with his secret wife.
According to the paper, his lawyer Jeremy Hill-Baker told jurors: “You may be thinking that he is only human, that Father Bill, as a Catholic priest, has taken a vow of celibacy, condemning himself to a single and lonely life filled with perhaps an underlying sexual frustration because ... it is not a natural state for a human to be in. It would be understandable for you to be thinking, ‘Well, perhaps it just got the best of him with that 17-year-old.’”
But he told them they would hear evidence from Finnegan and his wife, Beverley Dawson, adding, “No, you didn’t mishear me. His wife. He and Beverley Dawson secretly married abroad in September 1999.”
The court heard that Finnegan married Dawson, a mother of two, in Cyprus in a civil ceremony and only disclosed their marriage to close friends and family.
Finnegan is accused of touching the teen’s bottom and forcefully kissing her last Easter.