Former Rockville church youth minister sentenced to 3 years for sexually abusing teen
A former youth minister at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church in Rockville was sentenced to three years in prison on Tuesday for sexually abusing a teenage parishioner, according to Montgomery County prosecutors.
Brian Patrick Werth, 34, was arrested in 2016 for abusing a then 16-year-old girl, whom he texted explicitly for two years and had sexual contact with her earlier this year- the. He was charged with fourth degree sexual offence, child molestation and second degree assault.
Judge Karla Smith sentenced Werth to one year on the sexual offense charge and two years on the assault charge, according to a press release from the state’s attorney’s office. The two terms will be served consecutively, followed by five years of probation with COMET, a sex offender monitoring program that will include periodic polygraph and psychosexual testing. Werth is also required to register as a sex offender for 15 years.
Smith went beyond state guidelines, which recommend zero to six months for charges, at sentencing. Ramón Korionoff, a spokesman for the state attorney’s office, said the sentence was appropriate.
“We hope this sentencing above the guidelines will send a strong message that those in positions of authority and trust should not abuse that power over the young people they are meant to serve,” he said. he said in a statement. “Hopefully yesterday’s sentencing will be the first step in healing the victim and the church community in this case.”
“We were disappointed that the court imposed a sentence beyond the recommended guidelines,” Thomas Pavlinic, Werth’s attorney, said Wednesday morning. He made no further comments.
Werth, who at the time lived in the village of Montgomery, had known the victim through the church and learned that she “adored” him, according to prosecutors. They started texting and police later discovered he had been texting her graphic and sexual texts since the summer of 2014.
Around May 20, 2016, Werth kissed the teenager and had other inappropriate sexual contact with her at a church youth event, police say.
St. Elizabeth’s fired Werth in 2016 after the pastor received a complaint against him that summer, according to a statement from the Archdiocese of Washington at the time. The pastor contacted the archdiocesan child and youth welfare office, which then reported the case to county police.
County police arrested Werth in September 2016.
Werth was immediately sent to a state penitentiary, despite his attorney’s request for a week to get his affairs in order, prosecutors say.