A 32-year-old youth minister at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church in Rockville was charged Wednesday with three offenses involving sexual abuse of a 16-year-old parishioner, Montgomery County police said.
Brian Patrick Werth of the 19900 block of Drexel Hill Circle, Montgomery Village, faces charges one charge each of fourth-degree sexual offense, sexual abuse of a minor and second-degree assault, police said.
A statement from the Archdiocese of Washington said Werth has lost his job at the church.
According to the statement, the pastor at St. Elizabeth’s received a complaint against Werth. The pastor then contacted the Archdiocese’s Child and Youth Protection Office, which then reported the case to Montgomery County police.
The police statement said the report arrived in late August and claimed Werth had inappropriate sexual contact with the teenager on or about May 20 during a youth event at the church. Detectives with the Special Victims Investigations Division interviewed the victim and her parents, and gathered other evidence during the last two weeks.
Police also determined that Werth had been sending graphic and sexual texts to the victim since the summer of 2014. Werth was arrested about 8:30 Wednesday morning at his home.
Werth had cleared a background check and accompanying requirements before he was hired, the Archdiocese said.
All employees and volunteers who work with young people must undergo criminal background checks, the Archdiocese said.
Church policy also requires immediate reporting of suspected abuse to the authorities and immediate removal of an employee or volunteer from work or ministry after a credible allegation.
Parish and school families will receive letters about the arrest, the Archdiocese said, and meetings have been scheduled with parish and school staff.
Detectives urge people who believe they might also be victims to call the Special Victims Investigations Division at 240-773-5400.