Sex pest priest with secret wife faces jail for assault

15/03/2013 Ross Parry Agency. Catholic priest William Finnegan of St Clares RC church, Bradford, West Yorkshire, leaves Bradford Crown Court, after being found guilty of sexual assault on a 17 yrs old girl.

15/03/2013 Ross Parry Agency. Catholic priest William Finnegan of St Clares RC church, Bradford, West Yorkshire, leaves Bradford Crown Court, after being found guilty of sexual assault on a 17 yrs old girl.

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A Catholic priest who secretly married one of his parishoners is facing jail for sexually assaulting a teenage girl.

William Finnegan, 59, of Acacia Close, Castleford, revealed during his trial he had secretly married Beverley Dawson in Cyprus in 1999 after meeting her while serving as a parish priest in the town.

He was convicted of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl while he was parish priest at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Fagley, Bradford.

Finnegan had denied forcefully kissing the girl and touching her bottom, claiming she had kissed him, but was convicted by a jury at Bradford Crown Court.

The Diocese of Leeds has now banned him from the priesthood for life for his “shocking” double breaches of trust. He had been suspended by the church following the incident.

The revelation of Finnegan’s marriage came to light during the trial when Ms Dawson was called to give evidence.

She said she and her husband had never permanently lived together, but saw each other regularly, had a sexual relationship and went on holidays together.

Each week after he finished church services on Sunday he would visit her and then go back to work on Tuesday, she said.

Recorder of Bradford Judge Roger Thomas QC warned Finnegan he could face a jail term when he is sentenced on April 11.

The Diocese of Leeds said it was “shocked” at Finnegan’s secret marriage and ashamed of his conduct.

Monsignor John Wilson said in a written statement: “I first want to express my deep sense of shame at the actions of William Finnegan. I also want to express my sorrow and regret to his victim. I realise this has been a very difficult and distressing time for you and your family.”

He added Finnegan’s marriage was “another example of the gross breaches of trust committed by William Finnegan”.