Former Priest Heads to Court This Week, Bishop Releases Statement

October 23, 2010

Bishop Stika makes statement on upcoming Casey arraignment

KNOXVILLE—Bishop Richard F. Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville today issued the following statement:

As you know, on April 14 of this year a very courageous man, Mr. Warren Tucker, informed me that during the 1970s he had been sexually abused by William Casey, who at the time was a priest of the Diocese of Nashville serving in East Tennessee.

[We immediately began an investigation into these allegations and notified the district attorneys’ offices and law-enforcement officials in Greene and Sullivan counties, this being consistent with our policy on Sexual Misconduct Policy]

I met with Bill Casey that afternoon, and he admitted that there was credibility to these accusations. At that time I issued a "suspension decree" to Mr. Casey. The suspension decree permanently suspended Mr. Casey from priestly ministry, permanently removed his priestly faculties, and decreed that Mr. Casey could not present himself as a priest—for example, could not use the clerical title "Father," wear clerical garb, or act in any priestly capacity.

The following morning we held a press conference to publicly apologize to Mr. Tucker and to invite any other possible victims to come forward so that we might assist them in their healing process. I sent a letter to all parishes that week to be read at all Masses over the weekend to explain to the faithful about the tragedy that had occurred to Mr. Tucker and to ask for their prayers and assistance in reaching out to anyone who may have been hurt.

In the weeks following, we held four healing sessions in each area of the diocese where Mr. Casey had served to reach out to other potential victims and help all those who were hurting to begin the healing process. I am proud of the swift response and comprehensive action we have taken in responding to Mr. Tucker and all of the faithful of East Tennessee after we became aware of this tragic situation.

On July 28 of this year Mr. Casey pleaded guilty to a charge of a crime against nature in McDowell County District Court in North Carolina. He has since been indicted in Scott County, Va., and Sullivan County, Tenn.

On Thursday of this week Mr. Casey will be facing child-sexual-abuse charges at an arraignment hearing in Sullivan County Criminal Court. I have cooperated fully with all civil authorities and believe that justice is due Mr. Tucker for the crimes committed against him by Mr. Casey.

I wanted to make the faithful of East Tennessee aware of the criminal-court proceedings so that you will not be caught off guard by media coverage of these hearings.

It is important to note that besides Mr. Casey’s having been permanently removed from ecclesiastical ministry and facing the criminal proceedings that are taking place, he could be dismissed from the clerical state. This is an action that can be taken only by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican in Rome.

Dismissal of Mr. Casey from the clerical state—what is called laicization—is an action I fully support. I continue to observe the current civil- and judicial-court cases so I can relay their outcomes and Mr. Casey’s civil status to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I am fully observing and cooperating with the Vatican’s penalty process.

As Mr. Casey’s arraignment hearing in Sullivan County Criminal Court approaches, I wish to restate my apology to 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 continue to strongly encourage all victims of abuse to do the same.


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