Ex-teacher receives life in rapes of his student

The Baltimore Sun

[note: This is a 1995 article]

July 22, 1995

By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,Sun Staff Writer

Former Catholic school teacher John J. Merzbacher left Baltimore Circuit Court yesterday still proclaiming his innocence, after a judge sentenced him to life in prison for “dastardly crimes — crimes beyond the comprehension of rational people.”

Judge Robert I. H. Hammerman sentenced Merzbacher, 53, to four life terms for rape and statutory rape for the abuse of Elizabeth Ann Murphy, a Cockeysville woman who was Merzbacher’s student at Catholic Community Middle School in the 1970s. He also received a 10-year sentence for perverted sexual practice.

The sentences are to be served concurrently, meaning that under current guidelines, he must serve 12 years before he is considered for parole. However, few prisoners serving life sentences are paroled at that stage.

“I have always regarded teaching to be the most honorable profession of all,” Judge Hammerman said. “For all of us to face a moment such as this is a tragedy for the entire community.”

He noted that he had tears in his eyes listening to the tortured testimony of Merzbacher’s wife, Gloria, as well as to Ms. Murphy’s statement of how Merzbacher’s crimes had indelibly marked her life.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.