BY KEN LITTLE
Former Roman Catholic priest and Camp Creek resident William Casey is now an inmate in the state prison system.
Casey, 78, was convicted last year by a Sullivan County Criminal Court jury of first-degree criminal misconduct and two counts of aggravated rape in connection with sex abuse of then-altar boy Warren Tucker between 1978 and 1980, while Casey was assigned to St. Dominic Catholic Church in Kingsport.
Casey was transferred on Thursday from Sullivan County Jail to the Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg, 114 miles west of Greeneville.
The Morgan County prison is primarily a medium-security facility, with 120 beds set aside for maximum security.
Tennessee Department of Correction officials did not specify where Casey is housed in the prison, which does not have a geriatric unit.
On Nov. 23, Casey was sentenced to serve a prison term of 35 to 40 years by Sullivan County Criminal Court Judge Robert H. Montgomery Jr.
Casey may eventually return to Sullivan County, depending on how Montgomery rules on a motion filed Dec. 22 by defense lawyer Rick Spivey for a new trial.
Spivey said in the 21-page court document that there was insufficient evidence presented during the trial to convict Casey, who was also a former pastor of Notre Dame Catholic Church in Greeneville.
Spivey lists nearly 100 causes of action in the document, including alleged errors by the court in not allowing the defense to cross-examine Tucker at a hearing prior to the trial, allowing "hearsay evidence" into the record based on Tucker's recollections from the late 1970s, and failing to dismiss the criminal indictment against Casey because of a "pre-accusatorial delay of more than 31 years," along with other statute-of-limitations-related issues.
A motions hearing is scheduled for March 5 before Judge Montgomery in Sullivan County.
Casey also seeks a new trial on the grounds that the court failed to grant a request for change of venue "based on the fact that, of the 36 jurors initially impaneled, 24 had prior knowledge of the case through press coverage," and of those, "12 jurors had either formed an opinion or knew too much to serve," court documents state.
The motion also states that the court erred in the length of the sentence imposed on Casey.
"The court erred as it should have been without jurisdiction to consider these offenses outside the statute of limitations," the motion said.
The motion maintained that the court also erred by allowing into evidence information about Casey's 2010 criminal conviction in North Carolina for sex offenses committed against Tucker, and information about pending charges in Scott County, Va.
Casey had been scheduled to go on trial last year in Scott County, for sex offenses allegedly committed there against Tucker in 1978.
Commonwealth's Attorney Marcus McClung said after Casey was sentenced in Tennessee that his office may hold off on its case unless Casey's conviction is overturned on appeal or he serves all his time, an unlikely prospect given the fact that he is 78.
Tucker, now 46, lives in Indiana.
A friend, Jeff Koenig, of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said this week that Tucker is disappointed by the Casey appeal but is relieved that the man he once regarded as a father figure is now in state prison.