|Jeffersonville Man Speaks out about Priest Abuse
By Matt Thacker
News and Tribune
May 1, 2010
Tennessee priest charged after reportedly confessing
JEFFERSONVILLE — For decades, Warren Tucker lived with a secret that affected almost every aspect of his life. It took two failed marriages, countless failed friendships, depression and drug and alcohol abuse before Tucker admitted he had been sexually abused by a priest when he was a child.
The 44-year-old, who moved to Jeffersonville two years ago and lived, prior to that, in New Albany for four years, said the abuse dates back to his childhood in Tennessee where he was an altar boy at St. Dominic Catholic Church in Kingsport.
He claims that the Rev. Bill Casey, 76, sexually abused him from age 10 to 15. He said it started with fondling and progressed to “everything you can imagine.” He said he was molested at least 50 times.
Casey had been in some kind of romantic relationship with Tucker’s mother and used that to gain access to him, even taking him on trips, Tucker said.
“[My mother] thought she was giving her son opportunities he would have never had otherwise and with a man of God,” he said.
Tucker said he originally kept quiet because of the shame and humiliation he felt.
“It’s hard for people that aren’t survivors to understand,” Tucker said. “I was raised in a part of the country where you’re told to keep your mouth shut, to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and white knuckle it.”
After twice divorcing and struggling with problems from alcohol and drug abuse, Tucker knew he had to do something.
“I began to realize something was very wrong,” Tucker said. “The more you try to escape from it, the more it comes back to haunt you.”
So 11 years ago, Tucker went to his mother and told her that Casey had abused him.
“The response was less than I had hoped for,” he said.
That response, he said, was that she was sorry for what happened but that he should not dwell on the past. Without receiving the support he had hoped for, Tucker repressed his feelings even more.
“The thing that kept playing in mind is I didn’t want to be one of these adults that blamed everything on my childhood problems,” Tucker said.
When the international Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal hit its peak in 2002 and 2003, Tucker said he avoided the news.
“It seemed to be everywhere,” he said. “I watched a little of it, but I was saddened by it. It was very painful to watch.”
In June, Tucker turned to an online support group called SNAP — the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. The encouragement he received from the group led him to file a criminal complaint against Casey.
“I want him to be counted and be held accountable for what he did,” Tucker said.
Although most of the abuse occurred in Tennessee, Tucker said the state statute of limitations would have made prosecution almost impossible. In September, Tucker filed a complaint in McDowell County, N.C., where Tucker alleges Casey abused him twice on trips. North Carolina has no statute of limitations on child molestation.
Bishop of Knoxville Richard Stika said Casey was removed from the priesthood after he admitted to him that Tucker’s abuse allegations were true and indicated there may be even more victims, according to The Associated Press — one of several national news organizations to report on the story. Stika reported the abuse to law enforcement and publicly apologized to Tucker, encouraging other victims to come forward.
Tucker has mixed emotions about the Catholic Church. While he believes more could have been done to prevent the widespread abuse, he said the church is now taking steps to address the problems.
The Evening News and The Tribune, like most news organizations, do not usually identify the victims of sexual abuse, but Tucker has granted interviews to numerous television stations and newspapers.
Tucker said he did not want to be “one of the anonymous ones.” He wanted to share his story so that other victims would not feel alone.
Tucker said most people have been positive, but there also have been those that have called him a liar and said he only came forward for money. He has learned to avoid blogs and message boards. He also says he will not file a lawsuit and wants no money from the church.
Casey has been charged with first-degree sex offense and has been released after posting $5,000 bond.
Tucker has been happily married 14 years and is receiving counseling. He encourages any victims of priest abuse to visit SNAP’s Web site at www.snapnetwork.org.
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