Priest Given Six Years for Sexually Abusing Children

United Press International
April 24, 1986

A Roman Catholic priest originally from Hillsboro has been sentenced to six years in prison for child sexual abuse.

Adams County State's Attorney Tom Leeper said Wednesday a 225-page report prepared for the sentencing said the Rev. Walter Weerts had been sexually involved with boys for at least 18 years and there is an indication that church officials knew about the problem.

"There is a clear indication (Weerts) was removed from one or more parishes because of relationships with boys -- whatever that means," Leeper said.

Leeper had asked that the maximum sentence of seven years in prison be given to Weerts.

Weerts had asked to be placed on probation and be sent to the Villa Louis Martin in Jemez Springs, N.M., a center devoted to the treatment of Catholic priests and brothers who are sexually attracted to children.

Under a plea agreement, Weerts, 50, pleaded guilty last month to three counts of criminal sexual abuse. He allegedly performed oral sex on three boys ranging in age from 13 to 16.

Weerts is the second priest in the Springfield Roman Catholic Diocese to plead guilty to child sexual abuse charges in the past year.

The Rev. Alvin Campell of Morrisonville last summer pleaded guilty to sexually molesting seven boys between the ages of 11 and 15. In October he was sentenced to 14 years in prison.


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