There are felony charges against his ex-wife and her boyfriend in Atlanta-Fulton County.
Casey’s ex-wife, Shanon Stern, has been charged with four counts of second-degree child cruelty and six counts of reckless endangerment. Her boyfriend, Alexander Soriano, is facing five counts of first-degree child cruelty.
The charges against Shanon and Soriano are graphic and disturbing. There is one alleged crime that is so inhumane, you may feel sick or cry or both.
Casey believes that telling the story is the most meaningful way to make an impact on a system that he claims fails to take care of children, his included.
In a time when there are important movements for justice sweeping our country, he wants the story of abused children to be told. They are voiceless.
Casey, 42, has a voice, a big one. He hosts a drive-time national talk radio show on SiriusXM’s MLB Network. He has sat next to the likes of Charles Barkley, Pedro Martinez and Isiah Thomas on MLB, NBA and NCAA Tournament coverage on TBS and NBA TV.
And yet, he says, no one would listen to him.
A Marriage And Three Kids
It was only eight years ago, on July 4, 2012, that Casey and Shanon exchanged vows.
“We got married where all Jews in Long Island get married — Woodbury,” Casey says. “Crest Hollow on Woodbury Road. Nice place.”
They met when both were working at MLB.com. When they tied the knot, he was 34, she was 25.
Two years later, in 2014, they had their first baby, a son. Soon after, Casey landed the Turner MLB pregame gig that led into one of the league championships each October.
It was a prestigious job to add to drive-time hosting on MLB Network Radio. Married, with a baby and in the center of baseball’s media coverage, he seemingly had it all.
But Casey and Shanon just didn’t fit right. When they were near the end of their marriage, the duo tried a Hail Mary and had a third child, a daughter.
Though Casey looks at his baby girl as a blessing, divorce was inevitable. In April 2017, Casey and Shanon agreed to split custody in what he says was a painless three-hour mediation, with Shanon keeping the house they leased and Casey finding a new place in Atlanta.
In Casey’s view, you need to understand the abuse charges and the process to comprehend why the Family Law aspect of the judicial system must be improved.
This past February, Shanon and Soriano each were charged after nearly two years of Casey trying to gain the full attention of the system.
Trials, delayed by the pandemic, await for Shanon and Soriano, so all accusations are alleged, pending a day in court. Shanon’s lawyer declined comment on the case, and Soriano’s attorney could not be reached.
Both are out on bail. Neither has pled yet. Shanon has not seen her children in eight months.
The alleged abuse began when Casey’s eldest was 4 and the youngest was 1, occurring between December 2018 and September 2019, according to the warrant.
In January 2019, Casey and Shanon had agreed, according to court documents, that Soriano was not to be around the children or Shanon. The abuse lasted for another nine months.
When one of the children had an accident, Soriano told the child to drink the child’s own urine from the floor, the warrant states.
Another time, Soriano is alleged to have locked a child in a basement for an extended period until Shanon found the child. The children allegedly were subjected to alternating hot and cold baths that Casey describes as a form of “torture.”
The warrant says one of the children was “spanked” across the face and hit in the stomach by Soriano.
The children’s behavior changed and a survival instinct kicked in.
“There was one night where they were running around with backpacks,” Casey said. “The nanny and I were like, ‘What game are you playing?’ They were preparing to run.”
‘I Was So Broken’
Back in March 2018, Casey thought that his children’s crying when they had to stay with their mom might just be a normal part of divorce. He initially wasn’t thinking about abuse.
Although the arrest warrant details allegations beginning in December 2018, the children’s nanny, Mary Ruth Watson, first became suspicious by August of that year, comparing before and after pictures of the children that showed bruises, according to Casey. Though Casey did not know the full extent of what was happening at that point, he urged the authorities to investigate further, but there were roadblocks.
Casey says his kids were coached not to talk about the alleged abuse. Later, the arrest warrant stated the children were told “not to tell people.”
On January 15, 2019, a Special Victims Unit investigator told Casey she would not pursue the case.
According to Casey, “This investigator said, ‘Let’s be honest, sir, if they really were put in a hot bath, ‘Where are the burns?’”
“I was so broken,” Casey says.
Officer Anthony Grant, from Atlanta Police Department’s Public Affairs division, could not comment on what happened in the original SVU investigation, including the “Where are the burns?” comment, but pointed to the final outcome in a statement.
“Both Mr. Soriano and Ms. Shanon Stern have been arrested in this case,” Grant said. “The file has now been turned over to the DA’s Office and awaiting adjudication.“
The February 2020 arrest warrant said that Soriano hit Shanon with a chair, according to the children. Casey said that Shanon confessed to him that a black eye was from Soriano.
On January 23, 2019 — a little more than a week after the first investigator dropped the initial inquiry — Casey and Shanon agreed in Superior Court of Fulton County to a temporary order that “the mother and the children are prohibited from having any type of contact with Alex.”
During the ensuing months, Casey repeatedly tried to get the attention of authorities to enforce the order, fearing terrible things were going on when he dropped his kids with his ex-wife, per their custody agreement.
It escalated to the point where Casey was put in danger trying to prove the injunction against Soriano was being broken.
When violence is suspected in a relationship, a guardian is put in place to try to mediate and referee on behalf of the children. One day, the guardian saw Soriano’s car at the house of Stern’s ex-wife, in violation of the court order. The guardian needed a second witness, and she and Casey’s lawyer agreed Casey was the only one available.
Soriano once DMed Casey, calling Casey a “p—y,” Casey said. Another time, according to Casey, Soriano told one of the children to relay to Casey that Soriano would hit Casey in the face.
“He’s a lunatic,” Casey says.
Now, Casey was asked to go make sure Soriano wasn’t illegally around his children. Casey knew he had to go to the house, even if it didn’t feel right.
“Think about this: We know he is dangerous,” Casey says. “Clearly, he probably hates me. Imagine. And you need me to go there. You can’t call the police? They broke a court order. Think about this? Think what I was thinking. The guardian just saw them breaking a court order and wants me to go there.
“I couldn’t understand that if you tried to explain to me a million times because it is ridiculous. What am I going to do? What do you mean [Shanon and Soriano] are together? I start driving. I drive past his car. He’s getting things out of his trunk. I snapped a couple of pictures. I’m driving to go out of the exit. I thought he had already left again. He is stopped, waiting for me to come around the bend. Gets out of his car with a golf club.
“I peel around him and he gets back in his car and starts to speed after me. For about five or 10 minutes, I have to lose him in a neighborhood. This is not a sane individual.”
Adding to the situation, Casey felt if an incident was reported, it would direct attention to him and hamper his ability to be heard about what was going on with his children.
“I don’t need, ‘So and so was in a domestic violence dispute,’” Stern says. “This is not where I want to be. I sped away.”
The restraining order was never enforced, Casey said.
The February 2020 arrest warrant states Shanon continually violated the injunction that Soriano was not to be around her or the children.
The Cost Of Safety
Casey says the forensic evaluation, the doctors, the guardians, the lawyers and the therapists have cost $130,000. He is determined to change the system or help less fortunate people be able to afford the costs associated with pursuing a child abuse case.
“You can’t even say hello to the forensic psychologist as the parent without $2,500,” Stern said. “Then you have to pay for everything. The therapy appointments have cost me thirty grand. People don’t have that money. I don’t have that money.
“What are they going to do? Even now, in COVID, if a kid was going to tell a teacher, he doesn’t see any teachers. These kids can’t go do anything. There is nobody for them to tell.”
One Person, Two People
Even as Casey put on an affable face during his shows the last two years, he was experiencing hell — running on no sleep, living on energy drinks and suffering from clinical anxiety.
He has had to be two different people.
Candace Parker, a Turner/NBA TV analyst, sat next to Casey on set many nights. Casey usually would flip a switch when he went on the air, so only a few co-workers knew what was happening in his personal life. One day, Parker noticed Casey’s energy changed. Parker has become a confidant.
“The things that he told me, no parent and no kid should ever have to go through,” Parker said. “It broke my heart. Casey being Casey, he continues to do what he has to do and puts his kids first. That’s admirable.”
When you are a lead host, you are expected to be places. When Kobe Bryant passed away, Casey couldn’t go to Los Angeles to contribute to NBA TV’s coverage. He missed hosting the Hall of Fame ceremonies. He was supposed to do play-by-play for a US National basketball team game. Some at Turner Sports knew the reason, but many did not. He couldn’t leave his kids.
This postseason, TBS replaced Casey with Ernie Johnson as the lead MLB studio anchor. Johnson is considered one of the best hosts in the business.
Casey has a year remaining on his TBS/NBA TV deal, though he no longer has a role at the networks. He continues every day on SiriusXM and plans on having a long career, but he has a new mission.
‘It Is My Turn’
Casey knows this whole story is something that he could keep private and tuck away as a secret, and that was a consideration.
But his children inspired him as they have spoken out courageously about what allegedly happened to them. To borrow a phrase from his field, Casey thinks he is up.
“It is my turn to talk about how proud I am of them,” Casey says. “And be willing to step out of the background and tell the people that I’m afraid to tell. The people who are the public, who judge me every day. The people I’m afraid of that I’m not afraid anymore. That’s why.”
Casey says the turning point came when his oldest children, Lucas and Hayley, saw the alleged abuse begin to happen to their baby sister, Hannah.
“It was, ‘Enough was enough,’” Casey says. “They were so brave. Their lives are going to be bettered because they have understood what that means for them. That moment of, ‘I’m not ashamed.’”
With their continued therapy, his children are starting to thrive, breaking down walls with new painful revelations being jogged from their memory. The oldest, Lucas, now 6, has blown away Casey with how he has led. The youngest, Hannah, just 3, isn’t afraid of anything anymore, according to Casey, after not being old enough to communicate about the scary situation.
The middle child, 5-year-old Hayley, has gained confidence.
“It is like a totally different person,” Casey says. “She is now walking with swag. She was totally introspective in a corner before.”
Every night, Casey and his three children say the same mantra: “This is a safe house. There is no hitting. Only love.”
Now Casey wants to help others be heard. He has started a foundation called Operation ExHale. The goal is to assist families experiencing instances of child abuse by raising money and awareness for those in need.
Its slogan: “Together, we can help keep children safe!”
That is why Casey Stern wanted to tell his story.