- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 25, 2006

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A Roman Catholic priest pleaded guilty to three counts of assault and battery, avoiding a trial that was about to start on charges that he sexually abused two boys more than 25 years ago.

The Rev. James Nyhan was sentenced to 30 years in prison after the plea Monday, but Circuit Judge R. Markley Dennis Jr. suspended the sentence to five years of probation.

The plea included a charge involving a third victim in a case to be heard later.

Nyhan, 60, served in the Diocese of Charleston in 1979 and 1980 and later was a priest in the Archdiocese of Boston.

“I feel badly this colored my otherwise fruitful stay in Charleston,” Nyhan told the court.

The plea came as a jury was being selected for the trial. Nyhan had been charged with committing lewd acts on children younger than 14.

As part of the plea, Nyhan also will have to undergo sex-abuse counseling and not have any professional or social contact with children other than family members.

Two of the victims were prepared to testify, and both said they had second thoughts about the plea agreement after hearing the priest’s statement.

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