The Knoxville Diocese of the Catholic Church has stated that a retired priest, Rev. William Casey, has admitted to abusing a 10-year-old boy more than 25 years ago, while serving at St. Dominic Catholic Church in Kingsport.
Warren Tucker, the now 44-year-old victim that came forward with the allegations, says the admission allows him to close a dark chapter of his life, and he hopes it will encourage any others who might have been abused to speak out.
"I'm speechless at this point. I just heard about it a few minutes ago," Tucker said. "But my reaction is this is the happiest I've been in over 30 years. After living this out for over 30 years, and the hell this has caused my life, I couldn't be happier, really."
Tucker, now living in Jeffersonville, Ind., spoke with the media Thursday morning outside the Kingsport Justice Center, prior to filing a report regarding Casey's alleged abuse. Though Tennessee's statute of limitations will prevent local authorities from pursuing charges, Tucker wants a record of Casey's abuse on file in the Model City in case other victims come forward.
Meanwhile, authorities in McDowell County, N.C., are investigating Casey's alleged sexual abuse of Tucker while on a trip in that state. The Associated Press reports the case likely will be presented to a grand jury for possible indictment.
"I'm very hopeful that McDowell County is on their way to pick him up now," Tucker said.
"This man is a pedophile, this man is a danger to all children. He's a master of deception. He'll use almost any way that he can to get to small children; particularly single mothers, disadvantaged children. That seems to be his MO. I think he's a sleazebag."
Tucker said he came forward after three decades of pain and self-destructive behavior, including drug and alcohol abuse, through the help of SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.
Susan Vance, a retired nun serving as SNAP's Tennessee coordinator, said she was extraordinarily saddened this day had to come, and that her heart goes Catholics across East Tennessee.
She also expressed her gratitude to the current leadership of the Knoxville Diocese, who cooperated fully and demonstrated "extreme Christian kindness."
"Absolutely, there are more victims out there," Vance said. "More victims of Casey, more than likely, and we know of other victims of priests of the diocese."
Tucker said that as a 10-year-old, underprivileged boy, he was initially thrilled with by the time he spent in Casey's presence.
"We were very poor, didn't have a car, and this man took me places," Tucker said. "I was just happy to get to go somewhere at first. I thought he was a nice guy at first. But it wasn't six months before he started touching me. He sexually abused me over the course of four and a half to five years, in every imaginable way."
Tucker said numbering the incidents of abuse at 50, "would not be an exaggeration." He says they occurred in the rectory of the old St. Dominic Church, within Casey's car, behind the Netherland Inn and in Greene County, where Casey owned a rural cabin without electricity.
Simultaneously, he said his mother claimed that she and Casey shared "romantic love."
"That did not help me, considering I was being sexually abused by him at the same time she was telling me this," Tucker said.
With the help of SNAP, Tucker made contact with the McDowell County, N.C. Sheriff's Office in September of last year. Authorities had him call Casey, marking the first contact with his abuser in decades.
"I had to turn off the emotions," Tucker said. "Because if I just charged in and started saying, 'Why did you do this to me?' it wouldn't have worked out like it did. So For 25 minutes we chitchatted about small talk, and then at the end we got (the evidence) we needed."
While Tucker claims to have "lost my religion a long time ago," he still believes in God and prays every day. Now, he's praying for the other victims he believes to exist to come forward.
"That's why I'm here. I'm asking for other people to have the courage and know they're not alone, and know we'll stand with them. They can heal and become not only survivors, but thrivers in life."
To contact SNAP, call (865) 748-3518, or visit www.rememberthesurvivors.com
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