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Parish priest removed in Dixon

Police investigating computer use by Father Gow

Published: Friday, March 15, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
(Alex T. Paschal/
Until recently, St. Patrick Parish in Dixon had been the church home to Fr. John Gow. In a letter to the parish, the Rockford diocese said that Gow has been removed from the parish and his computer use is being investigated by police.
Father John Gow

DIXON – A Dixon priest has been removed from St. Patrick Parish and his computer use is being investigated by police, according to a letter that a church leader sent to the parish.

The investigation of Fr. John Gow was reported in a statement that Rev. Msgr. Eric R. Barr, vicar of the diocese of Rockford, sent to the local parish.

Penny Wiegert, director of communications for the diocese, did not respond Thursday to inquiries regarding Gow’s length of service in the church, his age, and which police agency is investigating.

Lee County State’s Attorney Anna Sacco-Miller said she knows of no priests who are being investigated in Lee County.

John McKenzie, the attorney in charge of the western division of the northern Illinois branch of the U.S. Attorney’s office, declined to say whether his office is investigating Gow.

The vicar’s letter was read to parishioners during Masses this past weekend. It is unknown how long Gow has been gone from the parish.

“As you know, Father John Gow has been away from the parish,” the letter read. “He was removed by the Diocese of Rockford and has been in evaluation and treatment for issues affecting his priesthood. Father Gow will not be returning to St. Patrick Parish.”

The letter went on to say that the diocese has been informed that law enforcement authorities are investigating Gow’s computer use. The letter specified that there are no allegations – and the diocese has no information to suggest – that Gow engaged in inappropriate physical conduct with any minor or adult.

“The administrative action involving Father Gow is not punitive, but rather, precautionary, as we cooperate with the authorities in their investigation,” the letter said.

An email from Wiegert said no criminal charges are pending against Gow.

“We also currently have no information from the authorities as to the contents of the computers seized and have no other comment relative to this beyond what is stated in the statement given to parishioners,” she wrote.

Gow was ordained in 2008, according to the diocese’s website.

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