Sheriff Releases New Details About Defrocked Priest Who Fled to Europe With 18-Year-Old Alabama Girl

Defrocked Alabama Priest
Defrocked Alabama priest Alex Cross. YouTube

Alex Cross is now in Italy with the girl, and Sheriff Paul Burch said the teen had been groomed by the priest, who served as an advisor at her Catholic high school.

A defrocked Alabama priest who abandoned his post had "groomed" the 18-year-old girl who fled with him to Europe, according to authorities.

Alex Cross, 30, vanished last month from his Corpus Christi parish, and was believed at the time to be traveling to Spain to perform an exorcism with a local teen who had recently graduated high school, the Mobile County Sheriff's Department said.

Cross is now in Italy with the girl, and Sheriff Paul Burch said the teen had been groomed by the priest, who served as an advisor at her Catholic high school. Burch also released details from two letters allegedly written by Cross.

In one, the priest allegedly wrote a Valentine to the girl, in which he claims they are married. 

"Before we fell in love, I promised to always care for you and protect you, like a father. I still look at you and see a child, but in the best way imaginable. You are mine, no one else’s, and I will always be a father to you until I die," Cross allegedly wrote.

"Now, we are in love and we are married! I’ve never been in love before (and I’ve never been married, obviously!), and I’ve never felt any of the feelings I have for you for anyone ever in my entire life. I promise that I will love you the absolute best I can, every single day," the priest wrote, according to the sheriff's department.

At the time, the girl was 17, authorities said.

A second letter, allegedly sent to a friend, explained why the priest was leaving Alabama, the sheriff said.

"Jesus has told me that He wants me to leave, therefore I am not going to return from this trip. I do this with a heavy heart. It is hard to suddenly leave everything behind, but this is what He is demanding and I cannot deny Him,” Cross allegedly wrote.

In an apparent reference to the girl, the priest allegedly wrote, "We know how this looks, but we are doing what we are told. Do not worry about defending us. This is hard for her too, but she knows she will always be safe if she does Jesus’ Will."

Sheriff Bush said he had recently spoken with the teen, who said she has no intention of returning to Mobile. A family member recently traveled to Italy, but the teen refused to come home and said she is with Cross of her own free will, the sheriff said.

Mobile County authorities say they have been investigating Cross since he vanished last month. Church officials have told Cross to return to Alabama.

The Archdiocese of Mobile issued a statement in July, saying Cross had "abandoned his assignment in the Archdiocese. His behavior is totally unbecoming of a priest. He has been informed by the archbishop that he may no longer exercise ministry as a priest, nor to tell people he is a priest, nor to dress as a priest." 

Earlier this month, Mobile prosecutor Keith Blackwood told a local station that “the circumstances surrounding this case are concerning, and it has the full attention of the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office.”

No charges have been filed against Cross.

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