February 10, 2006

Priest admits abusing wife, child

Daily Record


MORRISTOWN -- The former pastor of St. Virgil's Roman Catholic Church in Morris Plains admitted to a judge on Thursday that he beat his wife twice at the rectory in 2004.

William L. Winston, 52, also said that he cannot refute a boy's sexual abuse allegation because his memory has been blurred by alcoholism.

The cleric calmly pleaded guilty in state Superior Court to aggravated assault on his wife, Janet, and to abuse and neglect of a boy who now is 11. The child had told authorities that Winston touched his genitals in an inappropriate way when he was between the ages of 4 and 7, and Winston told Judge N. Peter Conforti on Thursday that he could not dispute the claim.

Winston's arrest on domestic violence charges in November 2004 was made public; the abuse charge arose during a further investigation into his background and was publicly disclosed for the first time on Thursday, though Winston and his attorney were aware of the allegation.

A spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson said the cleric will be given a stipend to live on and will be relocated from his lodgings at Assumption Church in Morristown to a secluded location.

Posted by kshaw at February 10, 2006 07:57 AM