Lagniappe [Mobile AL]
September 6, 2023
By Kyle Hamrick
Former Mobile priest Alex Crow, stripped of his clerical functions the last week of July, coerced the young woman who is now in Italy with him to leave Mobile against her will, a family representative said Wednesday.
“We’re aware that the young lady did not want to go,” Mobile attorney Christine Hernandez said. “He continued for hours on the phone to convince her.”
One month ago, a family member of the young woman who graduated from McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in the spring found her and Crow together in Italy. Mobile County Sheriff Paul Burch said on Saturday, July 29 that the young woman told investigators she left “of her own free will.”
Hernandez’s investigation into whether Crow groomed the young woman led her to believe otherwise. She called Crow’s repeated attempts to make the young woman change her mind and decide to leave home with him “part of the grooming process.”
The Most Rev. Thomas Rodi, archbishop of Mobile, announced on July 26 that Crow “abandoned his assignment” as Corpus Christi Catholic Church’s parochial vicar and he may no longer dress or work as a priest. He called his actions “unbecoming” and “scandalous” in separate statements, and said in August he plans to formally remove Crow from the priesthood in six months. In a video statement later that month, Rodi said the Archdiocese is fully cooperating with the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office and MCSO as they investigate Crow’s behavior on allegations of grooming.
But Mobile’s Catholic leaders have provided few details to the public about Crow’s activities in the archdiocese. Former McGill students and parents said Crow lectured about demonology and exorcisms in theology classrooms, and performed the ritual in front of students on a trip in Guatemala.
Hernandez said the Archdiocese and the Rev. Bry Shields, McGill’s president, met with parents and heard their concerns about Crow after the Guatemala trip in the final months of 2022 and the early months of 2023. His interest in exorcisms and interactions with students were among the topics discussed in those meetings, she said.
“They did not inform parents about what was going on,” Hernandez said. “They certainly didn’t warn parents or preclude him from going on any more trips.”
In June, weeks before Rodi defrocked him, Crow attended a trip to Rome with McGill students, community members and the young woman who is now with him in Italy. He was also slated to join a Corpus Christi “youth group religious excursion” in the fall of 2023, according to a Facebook post by the church in June.
Crow even had a supervisor who Hernandez said talked to him about having male and female students in Corpus Christi’s rectory, where Crow lived.
One parent said Crow kept large quantities of alcohol in his quarters at Corpus Christi. Bottles of liquor “covered” one long table inside, “right there by the crucifix and the rosary,” the parent said.
The young woman’s family is “extremely worried” about her safety, Hernandez said. She urged anyone with information of any kind about Crow and his relationship with the young woman or other students to contact her office, the District Attorney’s Office or MCSO.
“Everything’s important,” Hernandez said. “There is no way to stop this type of grooming if we all don’t work together.”
MCSO spokeswoman Lori Myles said Wednesday investigators are still waiting on results from subpoenas of electronic communications between Crow and the young woman. They are also still waiting on an analysis of a MacBook computer Burch previously said neither Crow nor the young woman wanted investigators to have.
The Archdiocese of Mobile did not respond to a request for comment about its meetings with Crow.