A former Tri-Cities catholic priest wants a new trial nearly four years after being convicted by a Sullivan County jury for allegedly raping a member of his church over three decades ago.
Warren Tucker testified that his then priest Father William Casey molested him more than 50 times over a period of five years when he was an altar boy at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church in Kingsport. The victim said the alleged abuse began when he was 10 years old.
Casey is currently serving a minimum sentence of 35 years behind bars at Northeast Correctional Facility in Mountain City, Tennessee.
“He (Casey) has always thought that the charges against him are baseless,” Casey’s new attorney, Frank Santore, Jr., said.
Santore claims Casey was not the priest at that church during those years, he was actually the priest at Santore’s church in Greeneville.
“Father Casey will always be my priest. He confirmed me in the catholic faith here at Notre Dame Catholic Church. When my dear Uncle Lou who was my god father, my great uncle, was dying he held him in his arms on his deathbed,” Santore said.
Santore says he has Casey’s diary for the years of the alleged , and told us Casey’s schedule was so packed, he doesn’t know how Casey would have had time to commit the abuse.
The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals denied Casey’s first request for a new trial. His appeal on that decision was denied by the Tennessee Supreme Court. However, on Thursday, Santore announced that he has filed a petition for a new trial.
“This is going to be a very, very, very difficult case to prove. I am not sitting here and saying that this is going to be a slam dunk. In fact, we have the burden of proof moving forward by clear and convincing evidence,” Santore said.
The petition claims that there were problems with the prosecution, and conflicts of interest. One of those conflicts involved Casey’s original attorney, Richard Spivey because Spivey’s wife worked for the District Attorney’s office at the time.
Santore told us he feels the D.A.’s office should be recused, or disqualified in this case.
“Neither myself or my partner Matthew Spivey were ever contacted by Mr. Santore prior to the time he filed this,” Richard Spivey said. “Obviously I think we should have been contacted he chose not to do that that’s his right. We’re ethically prohibited from responding publicly to the allegations contained in the post conviction relief petition.”
Spivey told us although he would love to comment on whether or not this petition has any grounds to stand on, he cannot at this time.
We also talked with Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus Thursday.
He originally prosecuted the case and told us he is not surprised Santore filed the petition for a new trial.
Staubus said he believes Casey received a fair trial and excellent representation. He also said he sees no basis to recuse his office in this case.
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