Casey Waives Hearing; Next Court Date in June
By Bill Jones
May 14, 2010
Former Catholic priest William "Bill" Casey waived a "probable cause hearing" in McDowell County, N.C., District Court on Wednesday.
Don Ramsey, clerk of McDowell County Superior Court, said Casey, who lives in south Greene County, is scheduled to make another appearance in McDowell County District Court on June 30.
It is possible that Casey could be indicted by a grand jury prior to June 30 on a crime-against-nature charge placed in connection with the alleged molestation of a Kingsport teen decades ago, Ramsey said.
Should a grand jury return an indictment against Casey prior to June 30, Ramsey said, the former priest will be scheduled to appear in McDowell County Superior Court (the North Carolina version of Tennessee's Criminal Court) instead of District Court (the North Carolina version of Tennessee's General Sessions Court).
Casey was arrested here on April 19 on a fugitive-from-justice warrant filed by Greene County Deputy Sheriff David Beverly.
The warrant said William Claude "Bill" Casey, 76, of Shake Rag Road, had been taken into custody after the Greene County Sheriff's Department received information that he was wanted in McDowell County on a first-degree sexual offense charge.
Casey waived extradition to North Carolina and the first-degree sexual offense charge was dropped in favor of a crime-against-nature charge because the first-degree sexual offense statute had not been in effect when the alleged abuse took place decades ago.
McDowell County is one of three locations where Warren Tucker, of Jeffersonville, Ind., said that he was sexually molested by Casey when the former Catholic priest was pastor of St. Dominic Parish in Kingsport some 30 years ago.
Tucker, now 44, told officials of the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville on April 14 that Casey had sexually abused him during a period from when Tucker was 10 to when he was almost 15. The years were from about 1975 to about 1981, Tucker has said.
Bishop Richard Stika, of the Diocese of Knoxville, immediately expressed concern for Tucker and his family, suspended Casey from ministerial duties, and launched an internal investigation.
On the morning of April 15, the bishop told the news media and the public in a statement that Casey had acknowledged to him that the allegations had credibility and that there may be other victims.
Bishop Stika said that Casey told him that the abuse occurred early in his ministry, that he had realized it was wrong and stopped, and that he is ashamed of what he did.
The bishop permanently removed Casey from ministry as a Catholic priest and notified law enforcement authorities in the counties where the abuse was alleged to have occurred.
According to Tucker, some 50 instances of molestation involving him occurred either in Kingsport or in Greene County, at a rural cabin here owned by Casey.
There were also two instances in McDowell County, Tucker has said.
ACTIVE IN LOCAL LIFE
Casey became well known here in the 1970s during several years as pastor of Notre Dame Catholic Church, located off East Barton Ridge Road in east Greeneville.
He went on to other church assignments in the 1980s and 1990s, returning to Greeneville a year or so before retiring in 1999.
Since then, he has lived full-time near relatives at his home in the Camp Creek area, filling in when needed at services at Notre Dame in Greeneville and at other Catholic churches in the Diocese of Knoxville, of which Northeast Tennessee is a part.
Popular and respected for many years among both Catholic and non-Catholic members of the community, he has been active in local civic life in a variety of other roles -- as a longtime member and leader in the Greeneville-Greene County Ministerial Association, a Food Bank volunteer, and a member of the Tusculum College Community Chorus.