BY KEN LITTLE
The appeal of former Catholic priest William Casey was denied Tuesday by the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.
Casey, a long-time resident of the Camp Creek community in Greene County, was convicted in July 2011 by a Sullivan County Criminal Court jury of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of aggravated rape in connection with sex abuse of then-altar boy Warren Tucker between 1979 and 1980.
At the time, Casey was serving as priest at St. Dominic Catholic Church in Kingsport.
Casey, now 80, a former priest at Notre Dame Catholic Church in Greeneville, was sentenced in November 2011 by Criminal Court Judge Robert H. Montgomery Jr. to serve an effective prison term of 35 years.
Casey is serving his time at the Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City.
He will not be eligible for parole until at least 2026, when he is 92.
In Casey's appeal, he asked that his conviction be reversed or that he be given a new trial.
The charges against Casey stemmed from conduct while Tucker attended a school associated with the Kingsport church.
On appeal, Casey claimed that the trial court erred by refusing to dismiss his indictment because forcing him to stand trial more than 30 years after the alleged crimes were committed violated his due process rights under the federal and state constitutions.
Appellate Court Judge John Everett Williams wrote in the ruling that a 32-year delay in Casey's prosecution "did not violate the constitutional rights of the defendant."
Casey also claimed in his appeal that the trial court committed errors with respect to numerous evidentiary and procedural matters relating to his motion to dismiss.
"Upon review, we conclude that the defendant has failed to establish entitlement to relief on any of these claims," Williams wrote in the decision.
Casey also claimed in his appeal that the trial court erred by failing 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."
Tennessee's Supreme Court "recently overruled all of the cases on which the defendant relies, and no ex post facto concerns prohibit this court from relying on (the ruling) to deny the defendant's claim," Williams wrote.
Tucker now lives in Kentucky and was not available for comment today.
Susan Vance, Tennessee Coordinator of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), released a statement Tuesday on Tucker's behalf.
"Father William Casey admitted to abusing Warren Tucker. The court accepted the case and citizens of Sullivan County convicted Casey of this crime," Vance said in the statement.
"We are grateful that he will serve the sentence that the jury gave him and hope that other victims of sexual abuse will have the courage to report to the police and pursue justice for themselves," Vance said.
Casey has the right to appeal the court's ruling to the Tennessee Supreme Court. His lawyers, Richard and Matthew Spivey of Kingsport, did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment this morning.
Casey was formally removed from the priesthood in February 2013.
He was also convicted in July 2010 of "crimes against nature" in McDowell County, N.C. Tucker was also the victim of the abuse in that case. .
The former priest received a three-year suspended prison sentence in that case, along with two years of supervised probation.