You may remember the Father William Finnegan, a British Catholic leader, and his shocking secret the was revealed last month: The priest married a woman back in 1999 and kept the revelation hidden from his church for more than a decade. But that detail coming to light isn't the worst of his problems. Finnegan has also been on trial for allegedly sexually assaulting a teenage girl. And he's just been found guilty.
But let's rewind. How was it revealed that Finnegan was married? The hope, it seems on behalf of the priest's defense, was that his wife could be a character witness who would offer up information to clear his name. This plan, though, inevitably failed. Despite releasing the bombshell marriage details in court -- and using the relationship to try and prove his innocence -- the priest had little success in the courtroom.
This week, Finnegan was given six months in prison for assaulting the teenager in England. Before the charge was announced, Beverley Dawson, the priest's wife, hugged and kissed her husband outside of the courtroom. Then, she sobbed when she learned that he would be heading to jail.
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According to the Daily Mail, Judge Roger Thomas was discontented by the level of support that parishioners were still showing Finnegan, despite the fact that he had lied to them for quite some time (the female victim has apparently been shunned by congregants). Thomas also took aim at what he viewed as the faith leader's lack of remorse.
"It seems to me he can’t face up to what he has done. It may be he cannot lose face amidst so much shame for those who still respect him," the judge said. "Many of his supporters might believe that the sun would rise in the west tomorrow if he said it would."
As TheBlaze previously reported, it was announced during the trial to jurors that Finnegan, 60, secretly wedded in 1999. After the woman’s previous marriage fell apart, she married the priest and the two told only those close to them about their matrimony.
Dawson subsequently testified in court about how the couple are “deeply in love,” had an active sex life -- and that she didn't believe her husband had assaulted the girl.
Finnegan and Dawson, 48, apparently married when they were abroad. And, as the Daily Mail previously reported, after the wedding the priest would go home to his wife — a former parishioner – every Sunday, returning back to his parish, St. Clare’s Roman Catholic Church in Fagley, Bradford, England, each Tuesday.
The allegation against him -- the one that he has now been sentenced over -- was that he forcibly kissed and inappropriately touched a 17-year-old girl on Easter Sunday last year. Finnegan has denied these accusations. While the girl’s family claims he went to the home two days after the alleged incident unfolded and told the young woman he had sexual feelings for her, the priest’s story is radically different.
The former priest has maintained that it was the teenager who kissed him and that he forcefully pushed her away and explained that such interaction was not appropriate. His wife had also testified that he called her later that day and expressed his dismay at the young girl’s actions.
Jeremy Hill-Baker, Finnegan's lawyer, claims that the former faith leader tried to commit suicide last year and that he has suffered greatly.
"He has no income, he had no pension. His ministry is lost, as is his reputation, which is in ruins," Hill-Baker continued.
Despite these claims, the court was unconvinced by the priest's story. In addition to losing his position with the church (he resigned when the charges emerged), it seems he'll also be spending some time behind bars.
(H/T: Daily Mail)
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