Former East Tenn. priest pleads guilty to sex abuse

Former East Tennessee priest pleads guilty in sex abuse case

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William Casey in court William Casey in court
"I looked at him and thought to myself what a broken down, tired, old man, and I wonder how many other victims he had," Warren Tucker said. "I looked at him and thought to myself what a broken down, tired, old man, and I wonder how many other victims he had," Warren Tucker said.

By ANN KEIL
6 News Reporter

MARION, N.C. (WATE) - A former East Tennessee priest pleaded guilty in North Carolina Wednesday to sexual abuse of a child.

William Casey admitted he was guilty of crimes against nature.

"You hate to see a convicted pedophile plead guilty to a felony then walk out," said Warren Tucker, 44, Casey's victim.

Casey was sentenced to two years of supervised probation, plus he has to pay court costs and a $500 fine.

He's not allowed to have contact with Tucker or his family. He also can't work or have any interaction with anyone under 18 unless they know of his felony.

Casey will be a registered sex offender.

"He should be kept away from kids. There's no cure for pedophiles," said Mike Coode, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests Middle Tennessee.

Members of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) were in the courtroom Wednesday for Casey's plea.

"I looked at him and thought to myself what a broken down, tired, old man, and I wonder how many other victims he had," Tucker said.

The Roman Catholic church is paying restitution for the victim's therapy.

Casey was arrested on charges from McDowell County, N.C. in April. The sheriff's department there investigated Casey after allegations by Tucker.

Tucker filed a report with the McDowell County Sheriff's Office in September 2009 saying Casey brought him to North Carolina as a boy.

Tucker also made those allegations public in Knoxville shortly before Casey's arrest.

Casey admitted the abuse to church officials, and was removed from the priesthood the day after Tucker's press conference.

Knoxville Bishop Richard Stika released a statement Wednesday afternoon. A portion of it reads:

"I wish to restate my apology and my commitment to continued prayers for Mr. Tucker and his family. I applaud him and other victims of sexual abuse for their bravery in coming forward to seek healing and justice. I strongly encourage all victims of abuse to do the same."

The executive director of SNAP, David Clohessy, also released a statement:

"We hope Warren (Tucker) realizes that his courage is protecting kids and exposing a predator. He should feel very proud of himself for finding the strength to speak up and having the wisdom to call police. Children are safer because of Warren's bravery.

We also hope that others who saw, suspected or suffered Casey's crimes and church officials' complicity will come forward. Kids are best safeguarded when pedophiles like Casey are behind bars, and that will only happen if others with information about wrongdoing follow Warren's lead and contact law enforcement.

It's easy to do nothing. But that's what child predators count on us doing. It's crucial that adults who know about Casey's crimes honor their civic and moral duty to speak up and stop future abuse."

Casey served several places in East Tennessee, including Chattanooga, Greeneville, Rogersville, Farragut, Newport, and Kingsport, where Tucker says he was also abused.

Parishes in all those cities are now part of the Diocese of Knoxville.

Casey and his family refused to comment on the sentencing.

Tucker says he was warned not to pursue legal action against the former priest. On Saturday, he says he received a threatening letter from Tennessee at his home in Indiana.

The letter reads: "Your recent activities have come to our attention. We have found you guilty of perjury and other actions of injustice. We continue carefully observing your conduct. We ask you to refrain immediately from any further such damaging attributives. There is a higher power than state and federal law. If you continue to unjustly abuse the power of the state and federal laws for your own benefit, we will be forced to take further action against you and yours personally. We are now prepared to take this to the next level immediately."

The letter is signed "Fratelli Justitia."

Tucker has passed the letter on to authorities. He's still pursuing legal action against Casey in Tennessee and Virginia. 

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