Catholic Priest Accused of Sexual Assault Reveals He Is Secretly Married
William Finnegan, 59, told a jury that despite having taken a vow of celibacy, he got married more than a decade ago and kept it a secret from both the church and his parishioners.
Finnegan, also known as “Father Bill”, was parish priest at St Clare’s RC Church in Fagley, Bradford, West Yorkshire, when the alleged sexual assault happened.
He denies sexually assaulting the teenager on Easter Sunday last year by touching her bottom and forcefully kissing her, and is standing trial at Bradford Crown Court.
His barrister, Jeremy Hill-Baker, told the jury: “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, let’s face it, 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 jurors they would hear evidence from both Finnegan and his wife, Beverley Dawson.
The lawyer went on: “No, you didn’t mis-hear me. His wife. He and Beverley Dawson secretly married abroad in September 1999.
“So deeply in love was he that he was prepared to ignore the Catholic Church’s ban on marriage, a secret which has been kept from almost everyone until now.