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Sunday, March 20, 2011

FLORIDA: Priest arrested in sex with boy, 14

Rev. William Wert
SARASOTA, Fla., March 18 (UPI) -- A priest and former Catholic school official was arrested in Florida on sexual battery charges involving a 14-year-old boy, authorities said.

The Rev. William Wert, 54, was arrested Feb. 1 after the boy told police about a five-month sexual relationship with him, Sarasota County authorities told the Joliet (Ill.) Herald-News, which reported the story Friday.

Wert was athletic director and assistant principal of Joliet Catholic High School in the early 1990s.

A diocese spokesman said Thursday, "we are unaware of any problems" reported in his time there.

But in 2007, police in Washington, D.C., where Wert was prior of a Carmelite seminary, arrested him for touching a 14-year-old boy's thigh. He was convicted of assault and served 15 days in jail.

Church sources reported Wert was "removed from his ministry" and later moved to Florida.

On Jan. 25, the Venice, Fla., boy's father called the sheriff after finding messages on his son's cellphone.

Court documents say Wert knew the boy's age. He is being held in the Sarasota County jail on $190,000 bond on seven counts of sexual battery of a minor and four counts of lewd behavior


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