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Former St. John Neumann priest charged Monday


The former pastor of St. John Neumann Catholic Church was arrested by Greene County officials early Monday, April 19.

William “Bill” Casey, former pastor of the Farragut church, admitted accusations of sexual abuse with a 10-year-old boy in the 1970s aimed at him are credible. The admission led to his subsequent arrest.

Richard F. Stika, bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville, conveyed Casey’s acknowledgment of an accusation presented by Warren Tucker during a press conference Thursday, April 15.

According to Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests or SNAP, “Tucker, 44, said Casey abused him from about 1975-1980, starting when Tucker was 10 years old.”


Stika, who would not go into details of Warren’s allegations, said Casey “has been suspended from ministry, permanently,” adding the Knoxville Catholic Church is asking for anyone who has been abused by a diocesan priest to come forward as Casey has acknowledged there “could be other victims.”

In a letter read last weekend at all East Tennessee parishes, Bishop Stika wrote: “I ask you to join me in praying for all victims of abuse throughout the world. I also ask you to pray for Father Casey. God’s mercy knows no bounds, but for Father Casey, who must now answer to the justice that is due, we pray that his own prayers and penance will bring divine assistance in bringing healing to the victims and to our local Church."

In the letter, Bishop Stika apologized to Tucker and to anyone else who may have been harmed by Casey or by anyone in authority in the diocese. “I applaud Mr. Tucker and all the brave men and women — the victims and their families — for seeking healing and justice, and I strongly encourage any victim of abuse to come forward.” Stika said child abuse is “an abomination against God. …,” maintaining the church is trying to be as “transparent as possible.”

The church is not an entity that “hides behind this and that,” he said.

“I feel bad for Casey and horrible for Mr. Tucker,” Stika said.

Stika said a review board would look at this matter, but since Casey had admitted to the allegation April 14, it was a formality.

Stika said Casey would no longer be referred to as a priest and would no longer be allowed to wear a collar.

Casey, 76, has been a priest for 41 years, having been ordained when he was in his mid-30s. He served as pastor of St. John Neumann in Farragut from August 1987 to July 1997. He retired from active priestly service during summer 1999.

Casey’s infraction is the third involving clergy who have served in the Diocese of Knoxville.

On Nov. 18, 2001, Steve LaPrad, then 52, was serving as priest at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Lenoir City when he was accused of an undisclosed form of sexual contact with the alleged victim while the pair was at a health club. He was indicted in May 2002 on a sexual battery charge in connection with the incident.

On March 8, 2002, the Diocese of Knoxville’s first bishop, Anthony J. O’Connell, who served in Knoxville from 1988 to 1998, resigned after going to West Palm Beach as its bishop. O’Connell resigned after admitting to molestation of students in the St. Thomas Aquinas High School Seminary in Hannibal, Mo., in the 1970s.

 

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