published Friday, June 27th, 2014

Tennessee high court refuses to hear appeal of priest convicted of molestation

KINGSPORT, Tenn. — The Tennessee Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from a former Catholic priest convicted of molesting an altar boy.

William Casey was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2011 after a jury found him guilty of criminal sexual misconduct and aggravated rape.

Warren Tucker has said Casey abused him for five years, beginning in 1975 when he was a fifth-grader and an altar boy at St. Dominic's Catholic Church in Kingsport. The AP does not usually identify victims of sexual abuse, but Tucker went public with his claims.

The Kingsport Times News reports the court's decision means Casey's conviction is upheld.

Kingsport defense attorney Rick Spivey had argued that the victim waited too long to report the crime.

Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus said he was pleased with the court's decision.

"They have 30 days to file for a rehearing, but as it stands now I believe the jury made the right decision and the courts have made the right decision," Staubus said. "I hope the victim, Mr. Tucker, can finally get some closure. It's been a long time and it was tough for him to testify and relive those old memories. So for him, I'm glad we're at this point."

Tucker released a statement Tuesday that urged victims of childhood sex abuse from that time period to come forward.

"If you have been abused by a parent, teacher, coach, priest or other religious authority, or by anyone else between the late 1970s to the early 1980s, come forward and seek justice," Tucker said. "Report that or any child abuse to the police and begin your own healing journey."

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