Sex offender discovered working at Catholic school

TOLEDO -- Lucas County Sheriff's deputies have found a sex offender who's been "missing" for quite some time. They say he's been working at a Toledo parish and school -- for years.

Five years ago, 60-year-old William Werner was a sex offender looking for work. He found it at as a part-time cleaner at St. Joan of Arc Parish.

Parish representatives have told deputies Werner did a good job at the church and also helped clean the school. The Catholic Diocese of Toledo says when the parish hired Werner, no one knew of his past.

It wasn't until last week, when officers in California checked on Werner's whereabouts, that the parish discovered he had committed sex crimes against a 13-year-old girl. He was convicted in 1989, released 10 years later and then came to Toledo.

However, Werner "had the duty to tell us that he was coming to Ohio," says Toledo Police Lt. Greg Wojiechowski. The trouble is that Werner did not inform the authorities.

Not surprisingly, people are upset by the news.

"I'm in shock, especially because I live in the area where a lot of kids go to St. Joan of Arc. This is a St. Joan of Arc neighborhood," says Laura Herroon, a public school teacher whose daughter was a student at the school.

"If she had been attending when this happened, I would have been right over there, Herroon says, adding that it's irrelevant that Werner was a janitor and not a teacher.

"They're people who make the school tick, make the school run. Generally the kids and the teachers think very highly of them," Herroon says.

The diocese says Werner was never given a full background check because on paper, he was a parish employee. They say he would have been at the school only after school hours. But now that Werner's been found out, he's in jail and won't be back at either the parish or school again.

The Toledo Police Dept. has been contacted to check into any inappropriate behavior involving Werner and any students at the school. He will be arraigned next week in court.

The diocese says all Catholic school staff are now required to have an FBI background check and that this policy has been in place since February.

Posted by KO