NEW YORK – A priest of Mobile, Alabama, who left the United States with a teenage woman over the summer under murky circumstances reportedly has returned to the country, with the local district attorney saying he won’t face abuse or misconduct charges due to insufficient evidence.
Meanwhile, according to the Archdiocese of Mobile, Archbishop Thomas Rodi has revoked the priestly faculties of 30-year-old Father Alex Crow and intends to pursue his laicization, meaning removal from the priesthood.
Crow, 30, abruptly left the country in late July with an 18-year-old recent graduate of McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in Mobile, prompting investigations from local authorities to determine if Crow sexually groomed the woman while she was a minor, and whether other teens were targeted.
Earlier this week, the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office announced that the two had returned to Mobile from Italy, where a family member of the woman had said the two had been located. Upon their return, the woman was subpoenaed by the district attorney’s office to determine what had occurred and whether there was any criminal action committed by Crow.
Mobile County District Attorney Keith Blackwood said in a statement that the woman “appeared in seemingly good health and said that she is safe.” However, he added that she brought an attorney with her to the meeting, and together they declined to answer any questions.
“Without being able to speak with the young lady about these events, we do not have sufficient admissible evidence to charge a crime at this time,” Blackwood said. “Therefore, this investigation is currently closed.”
Christine Hernandez, a local attorney hired by the young woman’s family to pursue civil action, told local media outlets that her understanding is that Crow and the woman are living in Mobile with his father.
In a statement on Crow’s return, the archdiocese said Crow has not contacted them, and that while his “behavior has been scandalous,” it does not have any information to indicate that he committed a crime. It also reiterated that his priestly faculties are suspended.
“The archdiocese would like to remind everyone that Alex Crow has been removed from ministry and his priestly faculties are suspended,” the statement said. “Therefore, Crow is not to exercise any ministry as a priest, or present himself as a priest. He is not allowed to celebrate Mass, visit school grounds, or lead any church ministries.”
Before his priestly faculties were removed, Crow was parochial vicar of Corpus Christi Parish in Mobile. In that capacity, Crow also ministered to students at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School.
Rodi removed Crow’s priestly faculties in late July “after it was discovered he abandoned his assignment,” according to the archdiocese. He has not yet been formally laicized, as canon law requires that the formal laicization process cannot begin until six months after Crow abandoned his assignment.
In a video message released on Sept. 29, Rodi said that neither he nor the archdiocese had ever received reports that Crow had engaged in sexual misconduct. However, Rodi said he had received complaints about his ministry, and “whether he was acting in accordance with Church teaching.”
Specifically, Rodi said he and the archdiocese received reports about Crow’s behavior with the woman on a trip in June following her graduation, and shortly before their departure. But he said these reports didn’t involve sexual misconduct. Still, the archdiocese’s Office of Child Protection investigated the reports.
Rodi also announced in the video that the archdiocese had opened its own investigation into Crow.
“The archdiocese wants to know the truth of what occurred here. I want to know the truth,” Rodi said in the video.
“In addition to fully cooperating with law enforcement’s investigation, the archdiocese has also been conducting its own internal investigation with the assistance of outside legal counsel to try and better understand how Alex Crow conducted himself while he was a priest in this archdiocese with adults and minors, and the nature of his relationship with the young woman in question during the critical time when she was a student,” Rodi said.
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