Bishop: Retired priest admits to sexual abuse, out of priesthood

Bishop: Retired priest admits to sexual abuse, removed from priesthood

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Bill Casey (source: Diocese of Knoxville) Bill Casey (source: Diocese of Knoxville)

6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Retired priest Fr. Bill Casey, 76, admitted to allegations of sexual abuse and has been removed from the priesthood, the Knoxville bishop said Thursday.

Casey told 6 News off camera Thursday evening it is difficult to discuss at this time, but he is going through the proper channels.

Bishop Richard Stika released Casey's name during a press conference Thursday morning. He said he Casey made his admission when they met Wednesday night.

The bishop said Casey will never function in the Roman Catholic church again.

Casey is accused by Warren Tucker, 44, of abuse from approximately 1975 through 1980 when Casey was pastor of St. Dominic Church in Kingsport. At that time, St. Dominic Church was a part of the Diocese of Nashville.

Tucker said the abuse happened from the time he was 10 until he was approximately 15.

The group called Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is helping Tucker tell his story. They said Thursday he's surprised Casey admitted guilt, but he's glad the truth has been revealed.

SNAP also said Tucker believes Casey should be put in jail for what he did.

More on the Catholic church's steps to prevent sexual abuse:

This information is from the U.S. bishops and the Diocese of Knoxville

  • U.S. bishops "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People"
  • Creating safe environments policy in English or Spanish
  • Virtus safe-environment training
  • Diocese of Knoxville procedure for reporting sexual abuse

The bishop said Casey indicated there may have been other victims in his early priesthood.

There were no complaints in Casey's file and Bishop Stika said this was the first time the diocese had learned of Tucker's experiences.

"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," Bishop Stika said.

"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 invite any others who may have been harmed to come forward," the bishop added.

Casey began his service in the church in June 1969 as associate pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Parish in Chattanooga until June 1972.

He served as pastor of Notre Dame Parish in Greeneville and St. Henry Parish in Rogersville from June 1972 - June 1976.

From there he became pastor at St. Dominic Parish in Kingsport from June 1976 - August 1987.

Casey was pastor of St. John Neumann Parish in Farragut from August 1987 - July 1997.

Deacon Don Amelse worked with Casey in Farragut for 10 years. The two remain close friends and Amelse says he's shocked his friend would so such acts.

Deacon Amelse doesn't believe Casey did anything inappropriate during his time at St. John Neumann.

"I don't think any of that happened at St. John Neumann over the 10 years he was here. If it is, I would be shocked, but then I'm shocked this morning, too," Deacon Amelse says.

Amelse says Casey had a sterling reputation and was thought of as a very holy man. He says what Casey did is inexcusable, but it's forgivable.

"He is still my friend. I'm not going to abandon him because of this. We've all done some things, just not as grave. But the gravity of it is an opportunity for real forgiveness to happen," Amelse says.

Casey returned as pastor of Notre Dame Parish in Greeneville from August 1997 - summer of 1999 when he retired. During this time he also served as pastor of Good Shepherd Parish in Newport.

Casey had still been serving as a fill-in priest when needed.

A detective with the sheriff's department in McDowell County, North Carolina said Wednesday they're investigating Tucker's allegations against Casey, who 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.

Casey now lives in Greeneville.

The Knoxville diocese has contacted law enforcement and the district attorney's office in Greene County and in Sullivan County, where the abuse took place.

Sullivan County District Attorney General Greeley Wells told 6 News he's looking into the information and will prosecute if it's appropriate.

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