ST. CHARLES – A former Dixon priest has returned to the ministry after law enforcement authorities cleared him of wrongdoing in a computer usage investigation, the area's Catholic bishop said.
In March, the Diocese of Rockford relieved the Rev. John Gow of St. Patrick Parish in Dixon as a result of the investigation, Bishop David Malloy of Rockford said in a statement. It was done as a precaution while Gow and the diocese cooperated with authorities, the bishop said.
Gow has now been assigned as associate pastor at St. John Neumann Parish in St. Charles. He started Sunday.
"Father Gow is returning to the full exercise of his priestly duties and deserves the total restoration of his good name and reputation," Malloy said. "The information that prompted the investigation was baseless."
Malloy's statement was read Sunday during weekend Masses at St. Patrick.
"I wish to thank the parish family of St. Patrick in Dixon for your support of Father Gow during these difficult months," Malloy said. "In addition, I am grateful to Father Gow for his cooperation and patience during this time."
Dixon Police Chief Danny Langloss said his department conducted a full investigation of Gow. It was based on information that Gow had downloaded child pornography on an electronic device, the chief said.
Officers executed a search warrant to look at all of Gow's devices and found no child pornography, Langloss said. The department got help from a computer forensics team from the attorney general's office.
The diocese and Gow cooperated with the police, Langloss said.
In previous interviews, Lee County State's Attorney Anna Sacco-Miller said she couldn't confirm or deny investigations. An online court record shows that the state's attorney's office was involved in a subpoena related to Gow earlier this summer, but no other details were available.
Gow was ordained in 2008.