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Former Kingsport priest seeks appeal of sex abuse conviction

March 27th, 2014 8:30 pm by Matthew Lane

Former Kingsport priest seeks appeal of sex abuse conviction

William Casey. Times-News file photo.

KINGSPORT -- A former Kingsport priest, convicted of sexually abusing an altar boy in the 1970s, is attempting to appeal his conviction to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

William Casey, previously of Greeneville, was convicted in Sullivan County Criminal Court in 2011 of first-degree sexual misconduct and two counts of aggravated rape. Prosecutors charged Casey sexually abused an altar boy shortly after becoming a priest at St. Dominic's Catholic Church in the 1970s.

Casey received a 35-year prison sentence.

During trial, the victim, now in his mid-40s, testified Casey raped him twice — once when he was 13 and once when he was 14 — and performed oral sex on him in his mother's trailer shortly before his 15th birthday. The victim testified he "felt obligated" to reciprocate the act and described feeling powerless to resist a man he believed to be "representative of God on earth."

The victim further testified Casey committed in excess of 50 sexual acts against him when he was between 10 and 16 years of age, with most of the offenses occurring in Sullivan County, but others also taking place in Greene County, McDowell County, N.C., and Scott County, Va.

Casey appealed to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals claiming court should have dismissed his indictment. Casey claims the trial violated his due process rights since he was made to stand trial more than 30 years after the crimes were committed.

Casey also argued the court committed errors with evidence and procedural matters relating to his motion to dismiss. Attorneys for Casey claimed the court failed to give special jury instructions "concerning the need to corroborate the testimony of the victim of a sex crime, as if the victim were the defendant's criminal accomplice."

A three-judge panel upheld the conviction in January.

Kingsport attorney Rick Spivey, one of Casey's attorneys, confirmed they have filed an appeal with the Tennessee Supreme Court.

"We feel very strongly about our position," Spivey said.

The Tennessee Supreme Court will have to decide whether or not to hear Casey's appeal.

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