Out of Jail, Priest to Be Sent to England

By Ken Foskett
Atlanta Journal and Constitution
September 12, 1991

Fifteen months after he confessed to molesting four altar boys, the Rev. Anton Mowat will be released from a Georgia prison today and begin a court-ordered return to his native England.

U.S. immigration officials will pick up Mowat, 48, at the Rutledge Correctional Institute in Columbus and take him to Atlanta, said Tony Campos, assistant director for detention, deportation and parole.

Then immigration authorities will process his return documents to Great Britain, Mr. Campos said. The Roman Catholic priest could be on a flight out of the country within the next few days, he said. Mowat was sentenced to six years in prison in May 1990 after admitting to molesting four boys in 1986 and 1987 at the Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Stone Mountain, where he was an assistant pastor.

The case scandalized the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta, and the scandal deepened when British church officials acknowledged that they knew Mowat's whereabouts during a portion of the 21 months when he eluded U.S. authorities.

Mowat left the country in 1987 in the midst of the child-abuse investigation and resurfaced in his home parish of Northampton, England, in 1989. He was extradited to the United States in early 1990 to face felony child-molestation charges in DeKalb.

A spokesman for the Atlanta Archdiocese said Mowat's case played a central role in shaping a new church policy to handle allegations of sexual misconduct.

"At that time, no one was really experienced in handling these kinds of things," said the Rev. Peter Dora. "Everybody learned from this."

Under the terms of his release, technically not a deportation, Mowat is forbidden to return to the United States until his probation expires, or about the year 2005. After that, immigration authorities would decide whether to readmit him, Mr. Campos said.

The spokesman for the state parole board, which granted Mowat's "conditional transfer," said the priest served the average prison time as a first-time child molester. Including time served in England awaiting extradition, Mowat spent 18 months in detention.

Warden Richard Szabo at the Rutledge Correctional Institute described Mowat's time there as "very unremarkable."

"He was a quiet person," the warden said. "He did what assignment was given to him. He was a good prisoner."


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