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No confirmation of Dixon priest inquiry

Prosecutor: ‘I can’t say whether there is or isn’t

DIXON – Local law enforcement authorities still won’t say whether they are investigating a former Dixon priest who was removed from his parish.

Last month, church leaders removed the Rev. John Gow from St. Patrick Parish as the result of a law enforcement investigation into his computer use, according to a statement from Monsignor Eric Barr, vicar of the diocese of Rockford.

But it’s still not clear which agency is looking into Gow’s computer use.

“I can’t say yes or no to investigations,” Lee County State’s Attorney Anna Sacco-Miller said. “I can’t say whether there is or isn’t.”

Federal authorities also won’t comment.

Rockford diocese spokeswoman Penny Wiegert said that for Gow’s privacy, the diocese would release no more information now.

“We want to prevent further speculation,” she said. “As the situation gets resolved, that will be disclosed as well.”

Gow’s replacement is the Rev. Bernard Sehr. Gow was the parish’s pastor, while Sehr has the temporary title of parochial administrator, Wiegert said. He has the same duties as a pastor and will hold the position until a new pastor is named, she said.

The vicar’s letter about Gow was read during Mass the weekend of March 9. It was not known how long Gow had been gone from the parish.

“He was removed by the Diocese of Rockford and has been in evaluation and treatment for issues affecting his priesthood,” the letter read. “Father Gow will not be returning to the parish.”

It also said that the parish had been informed that law enforcement authorities were investigating Gow’s computer use.

The letter specified that there were no allegations – and the diocese had no information to suggest – that Gow had engaged in inappropriate physical contact with any minor or adult.

Gow has not been arrested or charged in Lee County, according to the county’s online court records.

The vicar’s letter said the administrative action against Gow was precautionary, not punitive.

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

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