Fr. Walter M. Weerts

Ordained: 1960
Status: Guilty plea

Diocese: Diocese of Springfield IL

At least 22 victims, spanning his priesthood. Pleaded guilty in 1986 to abuse of three boys. Sentenced to six years in prison. Released after three years. Pre-sentencing report says officials knew for 18 years that Weerts was sexually involved with boys. Diocese settled with three in 1987. Laicized in 1989. In the early 1990s Fr. Kevin Laughery wrote a letter of recommendation for Weerts, enabling him employment as a teacher at a community college in FL. The position led to his teaching at a high school and giving talks to students at a middle school. Some of his college students had Weerts babysit their children. Settlements of eight more claims in 2004 for total of $1.2M. New suit filed in 11/2007 alleged abuse 1968-1970. On diocese’s list released 11/29/2018. Included in the 5/23/2023 IL Attorney General’s report. Abused around 20 young boys prior to the 1985 criminal charge. In 1962 Fr. Frank Westhoff (also later credibly accused) told Bishop O’Connor of Weerts behavior with boys. No action. In the early 1960s the father of an 11-year-old boy told the bishop Weerts sexually abused his son. Weerts was moved. Another boy was drugged then sodomized while unconscious by Weerts at age 14 in 1967, and raped again on two other occasions. This victim told A.G. investigators that Weerts was abusing four or five other boys during that time. Another said Weerts abused him for eight years or so, beginning when he was in fifth grade. Weerts was moved again in 1978 after parents reported he was abusing their son. Received treatment in 1979. Pastor of two parishes in 6/1980 until arrested in 1985. As of 5/2023, there were 22 reports of abuse of boys by Weerts.

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