Former Altar Boys Allege Molestation by Former Priest
By Norman Parish
St. Louis Post-Dispatch [St. Louis MO]
September 16, 2003
Five former altar boys filed lawsuits in Madison County Tuesday alleging that they were molested in the 1970s by a former Catholic priest who was convicted of separate charges of sexual abuse.
The plaintiffs alleged that some of the abuse by Walter Weerts, 67, took place at apartments in Granite City as well as other locations throughout the U.S and in the Bahamas, said their lawyer Jeffrey R. Anderson.
The men, now ages 30s and 40s, are only named as John Doe in the civil lawsuits at Madison County Circuit Court in Edwardsville. The suits, which request more than $50,000, didn't a specific amount of money in the lawsuit against Weerts and the Catholic Diocese of Springfield.
The men belonged to Sacred Heart Church in Villa Grove. Weerts was pastor of a variety of churches, including St. Boniface Church in Edwardsville.
In 1986, Weerts pleaded guilty to the aggravated criminal sexual abuse of three boys ranging from ages 13-16 in the Quincy area. He was accused of molesting at least three boys in 1985 while he was pastor of St. Brigid's Catholic Church in Liberty and St. Thomas Catholic Church in Camp Point, both near Quincy.
He received a seven-year sentence in the Quincy case but served three years, Anderson said.
Weerts, who is now believed to be a resident of Jefferson, Texas, could not be reached for comment. A spokeswoman for the Springfield Diocese said she couldn't comment because she hadn't seen the lawsuit.
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