Appeals Court Upholds 35-Year Sentence For Former Chattanooga Priest

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A 35-year sentence for a former Chattanooga priest has been upheld by the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

William Casey served at Sts Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Chattanooga from 1969 to 1972.

In 2011, he was found guilty after a trial by jury of one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of aggravated rape. The charges stemmed from conduct that occurred in 1979 and 1980, while the victim attended a school associated with the church. 

The ruling says, "On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court erred by refusing to dismiss his indictment because forcing him to stand trial more than thirty years after the crimes were committed violated his due process rights under the federal and state constitutions. However, reviewing these facts in light of the relevant test governing unconstitutional “preaccusatorial” delay set forth in State v. Gray, 917 S.W.2d 668 (Tenn. 1996), we hold that the thirty-two year delay in the defendant’s prosecution did not violate the constitutional rights of the defendant. The defendant also claims that the trial court committed errors with respect to myriad 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. Finally, the defendant claims 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. However, in State v. Collier, 2013 Tenn. LEXIS 636 (Tenn. Aug. 12, 2013), our 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 Collier to deny the defendant’s claim. Consequently, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed."


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