Priest Accused of Molestation Arrested in England

By Gretchen Keiser
Georgia Bulletin
February 1, 1990

Father Anton Mowat, who was indicted in DeKalb County on charges of child molestation in 1988, was arrested in England Jan. 25.

The priest, who had been missing since the time his indictment was made public, was located by his home diocese of Northampton, England, who informed the archdiocese of Atlanta, according to Father Edward Dillon, vicar general.

The Atlanta archdiocese immediately notified DeKalb County District Attorney Robert Wilson's office, officials of the archdiocese and the district attorney's office said.

New Scotland Yard made the arrest in Darlington, England, the night of Jan. 25, according to J. Tom Morgan, senior assistant district attorney for DeKalb County. Because of a fierce storm in England, the arrest was not confirmed in DeKalb County until Jan. 29 when it was announced.

The county is seeking to extradite Father Mowat, Morgan said. As of Jan. 30, it was not known whether the priest would waive an extradition hearing and return to DeKalb County voluntarily or fight the extradition process. Morgan said it was the first time the district attorney's office had attempted to extradite someone from a foreign country.

A grand Jury indicted Father Mowat April 4 1988 on 10 counts: two counts of child molestation; two counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes; two counts of cruelty to children; and four counts of simple battery. The first three charges are felonies; the simple battery charge is a misdemeanor.

The charges involve alleged actions against four boys in Corpus Christi parish in Stone Mountain, where Father Mowat was a parochial vicar from late 1985 until October 1987. The boys at the time were between the ages of 12 and 14, according to the indictment, and the incidents are alleged to have occurred in the Corpus Christi rectory, Morgan said.

The allegations were brought to the attention of the archdiocese of Atlanta in the fall of 1987, according to archdiocesan officials, when Archbishop Thomas Donnellan was incapacitated by a stroke. The archbishop was stricken May 1, 1987 and died October 15, 1987.

Father Mowat's superior in England was notified of the allegations, and the priest was asked by his diocese to return to England, according to the archdiocese of Atlanta.

At the time the matter had not been brought to civil authorities. The families of the boys later brought the matter to Wilson's office and the archdiocese was criticized for its handling of the matter.

Morgan said the Father Mowat had been working in the pediatric ward of a hospital, apparently as a nurse and without the hospital being aware of the allegations against him.

The families of the young men have been contacted and are willing for the matter to go to trial, he said.

He also thanked the archdiocese for its "cooperation and help with this matter."

In a statement the archdiocese said. "The future of Father Anton Mowat is unclear at this time, but it is the wish of the archdiocese of Atlanta that the rights of all, including the accused, be safeguarded, and that justice be done in accordance with the law."


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