DA’s office says he failed to report child abuse
An Upper Perkiomen High School health and physical education teacher was arraigned last Thursday morning in Red Hill District Court for failure to report child abuse to the proper authorities, a third degree misdemeanor.
According to court documents, Frank Mercon, 40, of Upper Frederick Township, is accused of failing to report an incident of date rape that was reported to him by a 15-year-old female student in the fall of 2010.
The alleged rape took place in the fall of 2009 at Penn State’s Berks County campus.
The victim, now an adult, recently came forward to Berks County law enforcement authorities to report that she was sexually assaulted.
The incident was reported on Aug. 17 to Montgomery County Detectives by Berks County Detective Ivan Martinez, who was conducting an investigation into the 2009 incident. At that time, Montgomery County detectives opened an investigation into Mercon.
During the course of Martinez’s investigation, the victim stated that she disclosed the incident to Mercon in the fall of 2010 through a written note, because she didn’t want to tell anyone in person.
The victim told investigators that Mercon told her that he did not have to tell anybody and that “there was probably nothing that we could do since it was over a year ago and there was no physical evidence.” The victim also stated that her best friend was present when she gave Mercon the note.
The note was burned by the victim and Mercon in May of 2012.
In a press release from the Montgomery County District Attorneys Office, authorities said, “At no time did Mercon report the victim’s suspected sexual assault to any law enforcement or child protective services, pursuant to his mandatory responsibilities, as a teacher, to report such assaults on children.”
Upper Perkiomen School District posted an informational letter to parents on its website late Oct. 3, the same day Superintendent Dr. Beth Yonson said the district learned of the charges being filed.
The district was reportedly cooperating with law enforcement for approximately two months while an investigation was conducted.
The district’s statement, in part, read, “The District does not comment on matters involving specific employees or students at the allegation stage. However, the safety of our students is our number one concern. The District will do everything in its power to cooperate with this investigation and ensure the proper reporting of child abuse by its employees. The District has provided comprehensive in-service of professional staff and continue to train our employees to take very seriously their obligations to report child abuse of which they become aware.”
“The bottom line is in the state of Pennsylvania, teachers and staff must report suspected child abuse,” said Yonson in a phone interview last Thursday. “We’re not the investigators, we’re not the judge; we’re simply the reporters.
“The problem is people make judgments and it’s not up to them.”
On Mercon’s employment status, Yonson said the district doesn’t comment on matters involving specific employees or students at the allegation stage.
District officials are asking anyone with questions or concerns to call the superintendent’s office at (215)541-2459.
Mercon was released on $10,000 unsecured bail by Judge Catherine Hummel-Fried. A preliminary hearing date is set for Oct. 19, 2012. He is being represented by Philadelphia attorney Marc Neff. Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Samantha Caufman is prosecuting.
Calls seeking the status of the sexual assault investigation were not returned by Berks County Detectives.