Priest retired from Knox Catholic diocese accused of sexual abuse

Priest retired from Knoxville Catholic diocese accused of sexual abuse

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"I am angry at myself for not being able to come forward sooner because of the children he may have also molested during my silence all of these years," Warren Tucker said with members of SNAP at his side. "I am angry at myself for not being able to come forward sooner because of the children he may have also molested during my silence all of these years," Warren Tucker said with members of SNAP at his side.

By ANN KEIL
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A man came forward to church officials Wednesday with allegations of sexual abuse against a priest retired from the Diocese of Knoxville.

6 News isn't identifying the priest because no charges have been filed in the case.

Warren Tucker, 44, and members of the local group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) met with diocese Chancellor Deacon Sean Smith about the allegations.

Tucker said the abuse happened from approximately 1975 through 1980.

The accused retired priest lives in East Tennessee.

Tucker said his life was changed forever when he was a boy living in East Tennessee. "Father X is a pedophile who sexually abused me in every way imaginable from the time I was 10 and a half years old until I was approximately 15 years old."

"I am angry at myself for not being able to come forward sooner because of the children he may have also molested during my silence all of these years," Tucker added.

He read from a prepared statement outside the diocese Wednesday, speaking publicly for the first time about being a victim of what he calls a predator priest.

Members of SNAP stood beside Tucker as he spoke. "Mr. Tucker is a hero to us because he has protected children today from all abuse," said Susan Vance, the East Tennessee coordinator for SNAP.

"I instructed Mr. Tucker that the Diocese of Knoxville will follow our policy and procedure relating to sexual misconduct to the letter. I told him that the first thing I would do after our meeting would be to notify civil law-enforcement authorities," Deacon Smith said in a press release.

"As soon as the meeting was concluded, we did in fact notify the authorities in two counties, where the alleged abuse occurred and the county in which the priest lives," the deacon added.

At the time of the allegations, East Tennessee was part of the Diocese of Nashville so Deacon Smith said he notified Knoxville Bishop Richard F. Stika and Nashville Bishop David R.Choby about Tucker's claim.

The deacon said Bishop Stika "will issue a decree beginning a diocesan investigation."

The priest is suspended and while he's under investigation, he's not allowed to present himself as a priest, wear clerical garb or serve as a priest in any capacity.

"Our No. 1 goal and objective is first to assist the victim in any way we can and to ensure that all the children in our care are protected," Deacon Smith said.

A detective with the sheriff's department in McDowell County, North Carolina confirmed they're investigating allegations made against the former priest by Tucker. The priest allegedly brought Tucker there as a boy.

The detective said Tucker filed a report with the department in September 2009. There's no statute of limitation on felonies in North Carolina.

6 News tried to contact the retired priest Wednesday, but we weren't able to reach him.

The diocese will hold a press conference Thursday at 10 a.m. at the chancery. Bishop Stika will make a statement about the abuse allegation and answer questions.

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