Former teacher released from Carroll County jail

She served half of term in child sex abuse case

July 03, 2002|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A former substitute teacher convicted of having sexual contact with boys at Francis Scott Key High School was released from jail yesterday after serving just more than half of an 18-month sentence.

Kimberly L. Merson, 25, was ordered released yesterday by a Carroll County Circuit Court judge who said the woman's behavior as a prisoner showed that her continued incarceration would be "a waste of resources."

"She has done everything she should have done while there," Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. said of Merson's time at the Carroll County Detention Center. He then suspended the balance of her sentence and placed her on probation.

During the hearing, Merson said she would "continue to have remorse in my heart." Of the counseling she received while in jail, she said, "I've learned more in the past nine months than I ever thought I could."

Merson was released later in the day.

Merson, of Union Bridge, had been accused of numerous offenses involving 10 teen-age boys, including giving them alcohol and nude photographs of herself, and having sexual relations with some of them in cars and homes during the 2000-2001 school year. She pleaded guilty July 26 to four counts of child sexual abuse by a custodian, a third-degree sex offense, and six counts related to her providing alcohol to the youths.

She received a five-year sentence, with all but 18 months suspended, which she was ordered to serve at the detention center with work release privileges. She was permitted to leave once a week to see her psychiatrist and for 2 1/2 hours every Sunday to attend Mass at an Eldersburg church.

Her court appearance yesterday was the continuation of a Jan. 29 hearing on a motion by defense attorney Richard D. Bennett to reduce her jail time to six months.

Deputy State's Attorney Tracy A. Gilmore opposed the reduction. None of the victims or their families was in court.

Bennett said Merson is not as immature as she was and is not liable to make the same mistakes.

"She has not only been a model prisoner at the detention center, she has been a model patient," he said, noting a letter from her counselor.

Beck agreed that she is remorseful, pointing to the reports from her doctor and others. Continued incarceration would be "redundant," he said. He then suspended the balance of the sentence and placed her on probation, adding, "Good luck with the rest of your life."

As conditions of the probation, Gilmore said, Merson will be required to register as a sex offender, have no unsupervised contact with children under the age of 18, and continue to receive counseling.

"She will not teach again," the prosecutor said.

When asked about the reaction of his client and her family, Bennett said: "We're grateful for the judge's compassion. ... She's an outstanding young woman, and now she can go on with her life."

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