Fr. Bill Casey Acknowledges Charges Of Sex Abuse
By JOHN M. JONES JR.
William Casey, a resident of Greeneville and for decades a popular and respected Catholic priest in the Knoxville Diocese of the Catholic Church, has been removed from ministry in connection with allegations of molesting an Indiana man between 1975 and 1980 when the victim was a child in a Kingsport church.
Bishop Richard Stika made the announcement this morning following a meeting Wednesday night with Father Casey, who was for several years the priest in charge of Notre Dame Catholic Church.
The bishop said in a formal statement that Casey had acknowledged that the allegations had credibility.
In retirement, he had continued to serve at Notre Dame Church from time to time, including performing one of several masses there on Easter Sunday.
The meeting between Bishop Stika and Casey on Wednesday night was triggered by public allegations made Wednesday in Knoxville by 44-year-old Warren Tucker, now a resident of Indiana.
Tucker has stated that, at the time the abuse occurred, he was 10 to 15 years old and a young parishioner in a Kingsport church that Father Casey was serving.
An investigation into Tucker's allegations has been carried out by a law enforcement agency in McDowell County, N.C., but no charges have been placed as of this time.
Following Tucker's public allegations on Wednesday, the diocese, following its regular protocol in such situations, notified law enforcement authorities and suspended Casey from performing priestly duties or wearing priestly attire.
In Bishop Stika's statement this morning, he expressed concern for Tucker and his family, apologized to him, and stated that "I want to assure you that Father Casey has been removed from ministry and will never again function as a priest in the Catholic Church."
This was the bishop's complete statement to the news media and public this morning:
"I want to thank you all for being here this morning.
"Last week when I spoke to the media about the topic of clergy sexual abuse, I was not aware of a credible allegation against any priest in the Diocese of Knoxville.
"Knowing how difficult it is for a victim of sexual abuse to come forward, I want to personally thank Mr. Warren Tucker for his courage in bringing this allegation to our attention.
"I know that SNAP has been working with Mr. Tucker, and I appreciate their assistance.
"Yesterday morning, Mr. Tucker spoke with our Chancellor, Deacon Sean Smith, and a member of our Diocesan Review Board.
"Mr. Tucker has accused Father Bill Casey, a retired priest of the Diocese of Knoxville, of sexually abusing him while Father Casey was Pastor of St. Dominic Church in Kingsport between 1975 and 1980.
"At that time St. Dominic Church was a part of the Diocese of Nashville.
"Following Deacon Smith's meeting with Mr. Tucker, we immediately adhered to the process outlined in our Policy relating to sexual misconduct. This policy is available on our website.
"I have also spoken with Bishop David Choby in the Diocese of Nashville since this occurred when East Tennessee was part of the Diocese of Nashville.
"Last night, I met with Father Bill Casey, and he admitted that there is credibility to Mr. Tucker's statement.
"Father Casey is ashamed of his actions and truly saddened by the harm he has caused Mr. Tucker, his family, the Church, and its faithful.
"Prior to Deacon Smith's meeting with Mr. Tucker yesterday morning, we had no knowledge of Mr. Tucker's experiences, and Mr. Tucker can verify that fact.
"At this time we have still not been notified by McDowell County, N.C., authorities that an investigation has been initiated.
"As Bishop of the Catholic Church of East Tennessee, I want to apologize to Mr. Tucker, his family and to anyone else who may have been harmed by Father Casey.
"I am sending a letter to all of our parishes to inform the parishioners of these allegations.
"I will ask that the letters be read aloud at Mass this weekend and inviting any others who may have been harmed to come forward.
"Our first concern is for Mr. Tucker, his family, and anyone else who may have been harmed by Father Casey.
"We want to help him in his healing process in any way we can.
"I want to assure you that Father Casey has been removed from ministry and will never again function as a priest in the Catholic Church."