Bishop Richard F. Stika has asked that the following statement in regard to the conviction of William Casey be shared with the faithful of the Diocese of Knoxville regarding Bill Casey. On July 14, a guilty verdict was handed down in Sullivan County Criminal Court in Blountville on charges of one count of first-degree sexual misconduct and two counts of aggravated rape.
On April 14, 2010, Mr. Tucker came to the diocese to tell diocesan officials that during the 1970s he had been sexually abused by Mr. Casey, who at that time was serving as a priest of the Diocese of Nashville in East Tennessee.
We immediately began an investigation into the allegations and notified the district attorney offices and law enforcement officials in Greene and Sullivan Counties, in keeping with diocesan policy on sexual misconduct.
I met with Mr. Casey that afternoon, and he admitted there was credibility to these accusations. At that time I issued a "suspension decree" to Mr. Casey. This permanently suspended him from priestly ministry, permanently removed his priestly faculties, and decreed that he could not present himself as a priest—for example, he could not use the clerical title "Father," wear clerical garb, or act in any priestly capacity.
The following morning I held a press conference to publicly apologize to Mr. Tucker and to invite any other possible victims to come forward. I then sent a letter to all parishes that week to be read at all weekend Masses 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, the diocese held four healing sessions in the areas of the diocese where Mr. Casey had served in order to reach out to any other potential victims and to help all those who were hurting to begin the healing process.
As members of the faithful who support our Diocese in so many ways, I think it is important that you know that the Diocese of Knoxville has no financial responsibility for any claims related to this tragedy since these events occurred over 30 years ago when East Tennessee was part of the Diocese of Nashville. In addition, I want to make it clear that Mr. Casey has been responsible for the cost of his own defense. Furthermore, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) in Rome is aware of Mr. Casey’s offenses and I am observing the CDF’s process for Mr. Casey’s dismissal from the clerical state (also known as laicization).
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to pray for all and to love all. It is times like these that challenge us to remain faithful to God who has called each of us to serve Him. I encourage you to join me in praying for all of the priests and faithful of our diocese and I ask each of you to continue to pray for Mr. Tucker and all victims of sexual abuse. In particular, I ask you to pray for God’s healing, his comfort, and his peace as we endeavor to live out our vocations in charity and truth.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Rev. Richard F. Stika
Bishop of Knoxville