Casey Charge Changes; He Remains In Jail
William "Bill" Casey
Published: 11:31 AM, 04/20/2010
Former Priest Awaits Extradition To Face Charge Of 'Crime Against Nature'
BY BILL JONES
North Carolina authorities have changed the charge against former Catholic priest William C. "Bill" Casey to a "crime against nature" from that of first-degree sexual offense.
Casey, 76, a former pastor of Notre Dame Catholic Church and a Greene County resident, waived extradition to McDowell County, N.C., during a Monday morning appearance in General Sessions Court, according to Greene County Circuit Court Clerk Gail Davis Jeffers.
On Monday evening, Capt. Victor Hollifield, of the McDowell County (N.C.) Sheriff's Department said by telephone from Marion, N.C., that officers from his department are expected to travel to Greeneville "this week" to take custody of the former priest.
The charge against Casey is being changed, said Capt. Hollifield, who heads the investigative division of the McDowell County Sheriff's Department.
Casey originally had been charged with a first-degree sexual offense under North Carolina law.
However, Hollifield said during the Monday-evening telephone interview that authorities had realized that the first-degree sexual offense statute was not applicable in North Carolina during the period of 1977-78 when Casey is alleged to have sexually abused a young Tennessee boy in McDowell County.
"So we went back and charged Mr. Casey with a crime against nature," Capt. Hollifield said.
The Sheriff's Department captain described the crime-against-nature charge as a "10-year felony."
Other charges are possible, Hollifield said.
North Carolina does not have a statute of limitations on felonies, Hollifield said. For that reason, decades-old crimes, such as the allegations against Casey, can be prosecuted there.
Greene County Sheriff Steve Burns said on Monday that he had not been approached by anyone regarding the possibility of filing charges against Casey in Greene County.
Bishop Richard F. Stika had ordered that a letter from him be read last Sunday at all Catholic churches in East Tennessee encouraging any victims of sexual abuse by Casey to come forward.
Casey was removed from the priesthood last week by Bishop Stika, of the Diocese of Knoxville, after admitting to the bishop the credibility of allegations that he sexually abused Warren Tucker, now 44, some 30 or more years ago.
Casey had been charged early Monday by Greene County Deputy Sheriff David Beverly with being a fugitive from justice in McDowell County, N.C.
North Carolina authorities had informed the Greene County Sheriff's Department that Casey was wanted in McDowell County on a first-degree sexual offense charge, according to a warrant filed in the case.
Casey had been held without bond at the Greene County Detention Center before a Monday-morning appearance in Greene County General Sessions Court on the fugitive-from-justice charge.
A court spokesman said Greene County General Sessions and Juvenile Judge Kenneth Bailey Jr. gave North Carolina authorities 30 days to pick up Casey.
Should North Carolina authorities not act within that time limit, Casey would be released from custody, the court spokesman said.
Until North Carolina authorities come to pick up Casey, he will continue to be held at the Greene County Detention Center, according to a court spokesman.
Efforts to reach McDowell County, N.C., Sheriff Dudley Greene, Detective Jennifer Trantham, McDowell County Assistant District Attorney Marie A. Hartwell or District Attorney Bradley K. Greenway on Monday were unsuccessful.