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Former JCA priest gets life in prison for child sex crime

Updated: June 20, 2013 4:27PM



A former athletic director at Joliet Catholic High School was sentenced to life in prison by a Florida judge Thursday for having sex with a teenage boy.

A Sarasota County jury convicted William Wert, 56, of sex abuse charges in February.

Wert was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1986 and worked briefly at Crespi Carmelite Catholic High School in Encino, Calif., before coming to the Joliet Diocese in 1987.

When Joliet Catholic High School and St. Francis Academy merged into Joliet Catholic Academy in 1990, Wert was named athletic director. He also became assistant principal. After three years, he returned to Crespi.

Wert was arrested Feb. 1, 2011, in Sarasota County, Fla., after a teenage boy’s father found messages from Wert on his son’s phone. Wert had been living in Florida but not serving as a priest when he began “trolling” gay teen sex websites, Prosecutor Dawn Buff said.

He met the 14-year-old victim through the website, Buff said.

Court records show Wert was aware of the boy’s age and engaged in various sexual activities with the boy in his house, his vehicle, an empty house, a wooded area and a motel room. After police conducted a forensic analysis of the boy’s computer and phone, Wert was arrested and charged with seven counts of sexual battery of a minor and four counts of lewd behavior.

In 2007, Washington, D.C., police arrested Wert for touching a 14-year-old boy’s thigh. He was later convicted of assault and served 15 days in jail.



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