A former youth minister at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Rockville was sentenced to prison for the sex abuse of a teen in his program.
“A formerof a teen group at a Rockville church was convicted Wednesday for the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl in his program. Brian Patrick Werth, 34, worked at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church on Montrose Road and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Montgomery County Police said Werth had “inappropriate contact” with the victim during a youth event at the church on or about May 20.
Police said Werth also sent the victim text messages that were “graphic and sexual in nature” from the summer of 2014 to the time of his arrest.
Werth was arrested at his Montgomery Village home in September 2016 and charged with one count of fourth-degree sexual offense, one count of sexual abuse of a minor and second degree assault.
Prosecutors said Werth admitted to sexually abusing the victim.
Werth was suspended from his duties at the parish after the allegations surfaced and was ultimately fired, NBC reports.
He cleared a background check and other requirements at the time he was hired, a statement from the Archdiocese of Washington said.
“A camp counselor or a teacher or a youth minister should know these things and not take advantage of those awkward feelings that teens often feel,” Ramon Korionoff, spokesman for Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, said in a statement.
Judge Karla Smith gave Werth two years for the assault charge and one year for the sex offense charge, the State’s Attorney’s Office said. Werth is required to register as a sex offender for 15 years.
State guidelines recommend zero to six months for the charges.
“It is our hope that this above-the-guidelines sentence will send a strong message that people in position of authority and trust must not abuse that power over the young people they are supposed to be serving,” Korionoff said. “Hopefully, yesterday’s sentence will be the first step in healing for the victim and the church community in this matter.””