A highly-anticipated preliminary hearing to be held in Red Hill District Court Friday afternoon for Upper Perkiomen High School teacher Frank Mercon was held instead in a quiet courtroom Wednesday morning.
The unannounced change in hearing date was requested by Mercon’s attorney, Marc Neff of Philadelphia, court personnel said Friday morning.
Judge Catherine Hummel-Fried held Mercon’s charges of failure to report child abuse over for Montgomery County Court in Norristown where he will appear Dec. 5 at 9:30 a.m. for a formal arraignment.
He was released on $10,000 unsecured bail after an arraignment Oct. 4.
More than 200 supporters were expected at the hearing, many of them wearing “Team Mercon” t-shirts sold to raise money for the teacher’s family and defense. A Facebook page dedicated to Mercon entitled “We Love Mr. Mercon,” which received more than 1,700 likes to date, and an event page in the same venue have been rallying support for the popular health and physical education teacher.
A petition, opened last Sunday, is currently being hosted online with more than 200 signatures. Its aim is to keep Mercon employed at the school, stating, “The district would suffer a great loss if he is released from his position.”
Mercon, 40, of Upper Frederick, was charged with 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 student allegedly told Mercon what took place in a note, which the pair allegedly burned before the girl’s graduation.
The victim, now an adult, recently came forward to Berks County authorities to report that she was sexually assaulted.
Alumni and friends from 40 states and eight different countries have spoken up in support of the teacher, who also coaches high school and legion baseball.
Supporters have said he helped them with everything from drug problems to depression to a death in the family, saying he was very down-to-earth and taught them important life lessons.
Ongoing attempts to contact Mercon’s attorney have been unsuccessful to date.