Vatican Acts Quickly On Priest Accused Of Grooming Teen

A Catholic priest from Alabama, who ran away with a teenage girl, has been officially barred from the priesthood. Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Alabama, said, “The laicization of Alex Crow is complete.” Laicization is the process by which a priest is removed from the church and restored to the laity. The statement added that Mr. Crow had initiated his own laicization and that the church approved this.

The 30-year-old former priest met the unnamed teenager last July when he visited McGill-Toolen High School as a guest speaker. The pair quickly began exchanging love letters and Valentine’s Day cards, which Rodi described as “totally unbecoming of a priest.” One letter from the priest stated, “You have made my life both astronomically more complicated and incredibly better at the same time.”

Mobile County Sheriff Paul Burch said he believed the priest “groomed” the girl and that his actions may have been criminal. The girl is now 18, but Burch said his department investigated when the relationship began and even if she were an adult, the relationship could still constitute a criminal offense because she was a student. “I believe there was some grooming that’s gone on, and you’ve got a much older adult interacting with teenage girls in an inappropriate way,” he said.

Before their departure to Italy, Mr. Crow, who was fascinated with exorcism and demonology, told associates that he was traveling to Europe with the young woman to perform exorcisms.

Mobile District Attorney Keith Blackwood said the girl met with prosecutors last November but refused to answer any questions about the Italian trip or her relationship with Mr. Crow. When they returned from Italy, they married in Alabama, and the church said that while the relationship was “scandalous,” their marriage did not constitute a crime.

“Crow’s sudden departure created a scandal, hurt, and confusion within the Archdiocese. We continue to pray for God’s grace to bring healing to this situation for everyone,” the Archbishop said.