A former youth minister at St. Elizabeth Parish in Rockville was sentenced April 3 to three years in jail for the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl who was a member of the parish youth group.
Brian Patrick Werth, 34, pled guilty in Montgomery County Circuit Court to fourth-degree sex offense and second-degree assault in connection to charges filed against him in September 2016.
“The Archdiocese of Washington takes seriously the protection of children and young people entrusted to its care and mandates rigorous background checks and child-safety training,” the archdiocese said in a statement after the sentence was announced. The statement said the “sentencing is a reminder of the necessary vigilance required to maintain safe environments for young people, and the courage of victims and others who step forward to report such crimes.”
In August 2016, the Montgomery County Child Protective Services department notified the police of allegations that Werth had inappropriate sexual contact with a 16-year-old female parishioner during a youth event at St. Elizabeth Parish the previous May. At the time of Werth’s arrest, police learned the former youth minister had been texting the teenager for two years. Those texts, the police said, “were graphic and sexual in nature.”
Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Karla Smith, in handing down the sentence, told Werth that “I think your conduct was just that terrible.”
In addition to the three-year sentence, Werth will have to register as a sex offender and will serve five years probation under the supervision of the state’s Collaborative Offender Management Enforcement Treatment (COMET) program that monitors sex offenders.
In 2016 when the complaint of child sex abuse against Werth was made known, the parish immediately contacted the archdiocese’s Child and Youth Protection Office, which reported the case to Montgomery County law enforcement. In compliance with the archdiocese’s Child Protection Policy, Werth was immediately suspended from his duties at the parish and school, and his employment subsequently was terminated.
The archdiocese’s Child Protection Policy requires immediate reporting of suspected abuse to the authorities and an employee’s/volunteer’s immediate removal from work or ministry following a credible allegation.
The archdiocese’s Child Protection Policy, which has been in place since 1986, is publicly available online at www.adw.org.
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