Abuse in God’s Country

Last weekend I was driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains on a trip from my home in Florida to the funeral of an old friend in Kingsport, Tennessee. The weather was clear and cool and the wilderness of the mountains was beautiful. Some people refer to such areas of natural splendor as God’s Country. As I drove down the rural road into the town of Kingsport, Tennessee past the abandoned mills and the farmers market I drove past St. Dominic’s Catholic School in Kingsport. The school was dark as it was Saturday but I could not help wondering whether children had been abused in that school. I tried to dismiss this dark thought from my mind as bias from all of the survivors of abuse by catholic clergy that I had represented over the years. I was not working this weekend so I went back to thoughts of times with my deceased friend in the past.
I stopped at a local cafe in Kingsport for breakfast. I did not want to go to a chain restaurant that could be anywhere in the U.S. so I found a friendly local establishment. I enjoyed hearing the local residents at the cafe greet each other and discuss local events. I then picked up a local newspaper to see if my friend’s obituary was printed. The headline on the front page above the fold stated: Former Kingsport priest to face charges in Sullivan County .
The story in the Kingsport Times News reported a grand jury indictment of former catholic priest William “Bill” Casey for horrible child sexual assault and rapes that began in 1975 at St. Dominick’s Catholic School against a 5th grade student. Casey was also indicted in Virginia on August 2, 2010 for forcible sodomy and indecent liberties on a minor that occurred in 1978. Casey has pled guilty to North Carolina charges of crimes against nature in July, 2010. I admire the survivor of the abuse who had the great courage to come forward with his report after all of these years. He was assisted and supported by brother and sister survivors in SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, an organization dedicated to assisting survivors recover from abuse and protecting children.
I also admire the prosecutors who were willing to listen to the survivors and take action. Many prosecutors are hesitant to bring charges where many years have passed and survivors have been fearful or unable to come forward.
It appears that William Casey was a serial child abuser for decades and likely abused scores of children. Where are his Bishops and the church leaders who allowed this to continue? The Statutes of Limitation will likely prevent any civil lawsuit that could find out what the Bishops knew and when they knew it. Holding former father William Casey accountable for his crimes is only a beginning to the dark secrets that lurk at St. Dominic’s School in Kingsport, Tennessee.