NEW YORK – A priest of Mobile, Alabama, who left the United States with a teenage woman last summer under murky circumstances, and who returned last fall, has been officially laicized effective immediately, the archdiocese announced on Jan. 5.

Archbishop Thomas Rodi of Mobile, who had already suspended all the rights and responsibilities of Alex Crow, 30, over the summer, thanked Pope Francis for the decision.

“I pray that this decision is one more way in which we can all move toward peace after these unsettling events,” Rodi said in a statement. “I continue to pray for God’s grace to bring healing for all.”

Crow abruptly left the country in late July with an 18-year-old recent graduate of McGill-Toolen 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.

In November, 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 November that the woman appeared safe and in good health, but refused to answer any questions. Ultimately, authorities closed their investigations finding insufficient evidence to lodge criminal charges against Crow.

Christine Hernandez, a local attorney hired by the young woman’s family to pursue civil action, said at the time that Crow and the woman were living together in Mobile with his father. The recent statement from the archdiocese does not update the present situation between Crow and the young woman.

Despite the lack of criminal charges, Rodi shared in August that he saw no way back to the priesthood for Crow, considering his behavior, including the abandonment of his assignment.

A bishop can begin the process of laicization after a priest has been absent from his ministry for six months, or the priest, himself, can request laicization at any time. Before the six-month period was over, Crow initiated the process for his own laicization. Rodi supported the decision.

Now that Crow’s laicization has been granted, he is no longer a member of the clergy, nor has any of the privileges or responsibilities of the priesthood. The archdiocese noted in its announcement Pope Francis’s decision is final, and there is no appeal.

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