Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Former Knoxville priest gets probation in N.C. molestation case

Former Knoxville priest gets probation in N.C. molestation case
By Nash Armstrong
Knoxville News Sentinel
Posted July 28, 2010 at 12:08 p.m., updated July 28, 2010 at 1:08 p.m.
.A former Knoxville priest pleaded guilty this morning to “crimes against nature” in McDowell County, N.C. — and the head of a national victims group praised the Indiana man who came forward after 30-plus years to report being molested.

Father Bill Casey, 76, will receive a two-year probation period, during which time he will participate in a sex offender program and pay a $500 fine and other court costs, Rutherford and McDowell County District Attorney Bradley Greenway said today.

Casey has served parishes around East Tennessee for 41 years. Catholic officials said in April, when the abuse was first reported and Casey confessed to church investigators, that he would will never publicly perform Mass or even wear a collar again.

The executive director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), David Clohessy, said in a statement today that reporting instances of child molestation in any circumstance is “crucial.”

“It’s crucial that adults who know about Casey’s crimes honor their civic and moral duty to speak up and stop future abuse,” he said.

Warren Tucker of Jeffersonville, Ind., contacted the McDowell County Sheriff’s Department in April, saying Casey molested him over a five-year period in the mid to late 1970s.

Casey was arrested on April 19 and extradited to McDowell County for trial.

Clohessy said Tucker coming forward should be commended and seen as an example for those who have been molested by not just Catholic priests, but officials in all dominations.

“He should feel very proud of himself for finding the strength to speak up and having the wisdom to call police,” he said. “Children are safer because of Warren’s bravery.”

Casey’s career began in Chattanooga in 1969 and included nearly 10 years as pastor of St. John Neumann Parish in Farragut from August 1987 to July 1997. He retired in 1999 but still said Mass and filled in for other priests on occasion.

Casey, who lives in Greeneville, has declined media interviews but cooperated with church officials and police.

More details as they develop online and in Thursday’s News Sentinel.