Police charge Rockville youth minister with sexual abuse of 16-year-old

- A Montgomery County youth minister has been charged with sexually abusing a teenage girl who attended his church.

Brian Werth worked at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Rockville, but was terminated from his duties. However, investigators worry he could have had other victims who have not yet come forward.

Police said they were contacted last month by Child Protective Services about Werth having inappropriate sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl in May at an event held at the Rockville church.

Police believe that the 32-year-old had also been texting the girl graphic and sexual content since the summer of 2014.

Werth has been charged with one count of fourth-degree sexual offense, one count of sexual abuse of a minor and second-degree assault.

According to the Archdiocese of Washington, they reported the alleged abuse to police after they were contacted by a pastor of St. Elizabeth Catholic Church. They also released a statement regarding Werth's arrest that said:

"Recently, the pastor of St. Elizabeth's parish in Rockville received a complaint regarding a case of alleged child sex abuse by Mr. Brian P. Werth, the parish's youth minister. The pastor immediately contacted the Archdiocese of Washington's Child and Youth Protection Office, which reported the case to Montgomery County law enforcement.

"Additionally, in compliance with the Archdiocese of Washington's Child Protection Policy, Mr. Werth was immediately suspended from his duties at the parish and school; his employment has since been terminated. After an investigation, law enforcement authorities charged Mr. Werth and he was arrested this morning.

"Meetings have been scheduled with parish and school staff, and letters are being sent to the parish and school families to brief them on this matter. All have been asked that if anyone has relevant information regarding this matter to please contact the Montgomery County Department of Police Special Victims Investigation Division at 240-773-5400.

"The Archdiocese of Washington takes seriously its responsibility to the children entrusted to its care. The Child Protection Policy of the Archdiocese of Washington mandates criminal background checks, applications and education for all employees and volunteers who work with young people. Mr. Werth had cleared the background check and accompanying requirements. The policy also mandates immediate reporting of suspected abuse to the authorities and an employee's/volunteer's immediate removal from work or ministry following a credible allegation. This requirement was also met in Mr. Werth's case.

"If at any time you become aware of improper conduct by a person involved in archdiocesan ministry, please contact the director of the archdiocese's Office of Child and Youth Protection, Courtney Chase, at 301-853-5302.

"The archdiocese's Child Protection Policy, which has been in place since 1986, is publicly available online at www.adw.org."

FOX 5 asked the Archdiocese of Washington why they were notified by the pastor of the alleged abuse first before the police were called. They explained that because it was a second party who made the report and not the actual victim, it is policy to go to the archdiocese first.

Church officials did not say who that reporting party was. They also did not confirm the exact timeline of when the Archdiocese of Washington was first notified of the alleged abuse and when they contacted police.

FOX 5 went to Werth's home on Wednesday for comment, but no one answered the door.

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