Ex funeral director pleads guilty to criminal sexual conduct; Sentencing slated for Aug. after plea deal
Published 8:35 am Tuesday, May 16, 2017
A former Austin funeral director has pleaded guilty to two charges stemming from a relationship with a 15-year-old he connected with online in 2015.
Eric Arthur Weerts, 37, now of Cannon Falls and formerly of Austin, took a plea agreement Monday in Mower County District Court, pleading guilty to two felony counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, while a third count was dismissed.
Weerts was arrested in March 2016 for engaging in sexual acts with a 15-year-old female on three occasions in the summer and fall of 2015.
According to court records, a woman reported to the Austin Police Department she found her daughter had been sending nude photographs of herself to three unknown males.
Weerts allegedly connected with the victim online on the app “Kik” where his profile name was “Steven Johnson,” and his age was listed as 17.
He had previously met the victim about a week earlier at his former place of work, an Austin funeral home, where he worked as a funeral director and assisted with a funeral for a person the victim knew.
The two reportedly exchanged nude photographs before meeting at Horace Austin Park near the Austin Municipal Pool, possibly in June 2015, where the victim reportedly recognized Weerts as the employee from the funeral home, according to the complaint.
Weerts asked her to come to his house “someday” to have sex and she initially declined. They talked for a while and then he went back to work. Later, she sent him a message accepting his offer and he told her not to tell her mother, according to the complaint.
The first came when the victim rode her bike to Weerts’ house the night after their initial meeting at Horace Austin Park.
They then allegedly engaged in sexual acts in a guest bedroom.
They allegedly met a second time at the same park and went into bushes next to the fishing dock on Mill Pond and engaged in sexual acts again.
The third time was in October 2015, when the victim was visiting her 15-year-old female friend who lived at Mandolin Apartments. She used her friend’s tablet to message Weerts, then her friend gave him the address and he came over at about 7 p.m. They went into a maintenance room and all three reportedly engaged in sexual acts.
The second victim confirmed most of the details in the first victim’s account and she told Weerts she was 17 years old and that the first victim was 15 years old. The first victim said she hadn’t met with Weerts since that incident.
Weerts is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 18.