Youth minister "groomed" victim for years, prosecutors say

Prosecutors said he spent two year "grooming" his victim before forcing himself on her at an event at church.

ROCKVILLE, MD (WUSA9) - The youth minister of a well-known Rockville church spent at least two years grooming a girl for eventual sexual abuse, Montgomery County prosecutors said Thursday.

Brian Patrick Werth, 32, was ordered held on $300,000 bail after his first court appearance in the case.

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“There was an extended period of grooming,” said Assistant State’s Attorney Hannah Gleason. “He’s a danger to this juvenile and to the community.”

Werth’s relationship with a 16-year old girl he is accused of sexually abusing goes back to middle school prosecutors said.

Werth is accused of meeting the girl in a private area of the St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church on Montrose Road in Rockville the night of May 20th during a youth ministry “lock-in” overnight event.  

Investigators claim he sexually abused the girl during the meeting.

The two-year relationship included sexually explicit texts and sexting photos sent by Werth to the girl with requests that she do the same, investigators claim.

“She felt helpless to resist or object to the Defendant’s advances and solicitations based upon their historical relationship and her belief the Defendant had been so helpful and kind to her in the past,” investigators wrote in court documents.

The girl remains deeply conflicted, investigators wrote. 

“She hates him and cares for him at the same time,” they wrote.

The allegations came to light after the victim told a close friend during a youth ministry trip to Poland in July.

The pastor at St. Elizabeth’s notified the Archdiocese of Washington, which in turn alerted authorities in Montgomery County.

Werth was immediately fired from his position as Director of Youth Ministry at St. Elizabeth’s, according to a statement from church officials.

Werth holds a Masters Degree in Theology from the Washington –based Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.  He has been the Director of Youth Ministry at St. Elizabeth’s since 2009.


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