Six-Year Jail Term, Mandated Treatment for Priest

By Gretchen Keiser
Georgia Bulletin
May 31, 1990

Father Anton Mowat has been sentenced to serve six years in jail and nine years on probation and under treatment for pedophilia outside the United States.

The sentence came about in a plea-bargaining agreement between prosecutors from the DeKalb County District Attorney's Office and Mowat's attorneys Larry Schneider and Ed Nethery, from the DeKalb Public Defenders' Office.

It was imposed May 24 in DeKalb County Superior Court by Judge Curtis Tillman after a brief hearing in which Judge Tillman reviewed Mowat's rights and ascertained that he was choosing to enter a plea of guilty to four counts of child molestation.

He was originally charged with ten counts, including two of child molestation, but the charges came from a grand jury indictment and, in some cases, were alternative charges for the same incident. He agreed to have two counts of cruelty to children amended to two counts of child molestation. Six other charges were dropped.

District Attorney Bob Wilson said each of the four remaining charges covered one of the four boys involved and specifically charged fondling or attempted fondling.

A statement of facts made a part of the court record and distributed to the press following the sentencing by Wilson says that the fondling or attempted fondling took place in Corpus Christi rectory when the boys, who were altar boys at the Stone Mountain parish under Father Mowat's supervision, stayed overnight.

Rectory rules did not permit such overnight visits unless special permission was granted, the statement said. No such special permission was ever requested, the statement continues, although it does not specify to whom it refers.

In a press conference, Wilson said that the six-year jail term would realistically be a two-year term under Georgia's current system of early parole due to prison over-crowding. He also said that the priest was "not a mass danger to society" and would likely be imprisoned in one of "five or six different institutions" in the state more appropriate than the general penitentiary system.

Mowat has been hospitalized and moved out of DeKalb County Jail to a less crowded facility because he attempted to cut his wrists and alleged abuse at the hands of guards and prisoners in DeKalb.

Time spent in jail since his Jan. 25 arrest in Darlington, England will be immediately deported from the U.S. after his jail term is complete and prevented from re-entering the U.S during the remainder of his 15-year sentence. Other terms imposed by the court require him to enter a professional treatment program for pedophilia within 30 days after his release from jail and to provide the DeKalb County probation office with quarterly reports from a therapist or counselor until completion of a program or the completion of his probation term.

He is also restricted from being alone with minor children or living in a residence with minor children.

Wilson, in response to a reporter's questions said that the families involved in the case had been told of the sentence and "they feel the court has tried to deal fairly with the issue.

The sentence, he said, reflected the fact that the charges were not more aggravated than fondling.

Schneider, the public defender, said May 29 that Father Mowat was "glad to have it behind him" and can serve his sentence and "begin life again" in England.

He will be sent first to the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center in Jackson, Schneider said, where all prisoners are sent before assignment to specific jails, and then assigned to a prison.

"We would have liked a lesser sentence than" the one given, he said, but the defense attorneys accepted the judge's ruling.


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