Former Catholic Teacher Named in Sex Abuse Report Dies in Prison

Patch [New York City NY]

May 17, 2023

By Megan VerHelst

John Merzbacher, a former Baltimore Catholic school teacher, was convicted of rape in 1995. He was serving four life sentences.

John Merzbacher, a former Catholic school teacher and convicted child rapist who was named in a grand jury report detailing allegations of sexual abuse within the Baltimore Archdiocese, died in prison last week, according to reports citing the state’s corrections department.

Merzbacher, 81, was serving four life sentences at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover after being convicted of rape in 1995, the Baltimore Sun reported. He died of natural causes, according to the Associated Press.

Merzbacher was among nearly 160 priests and other church members named in a 463-page report released in April by Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown, which identified Merzbacher as “the most obvious example of systemic abuse” among non-clergy members.

The report, which a judge ordered released to the public in February, details a long history of widespread sexual abuse and a systemic cover-up by the Baltimore Archdiocese. More than 600 people were assaulted over many years, according to the report.

Merzbacher was a teacher at Catholic Community Middle School in Locust Point, according to the report. He worked there from 1972 until 1979.

According to the report, Merzbacher “repeatedly and violently abused children” in at least two schools in the 1960s and 1970s, including a sixth-grade girl he molested or raped every day for nearly three years, the report stated. He also allowed many male students to sexually assault her, according to the report.

The report also stated that Merzbacher raped and molested dozens of other male and female students, including at gunpoint. He also repeatedly threatened to kill the children or their families if they told anyone what he was doing, the report said.

In 1994, Merzbacher was indicted in Baltimore City Circuit Court for rape and child sexual abuse. He was convicted in 1995.

The archdiocese released a statement to the Baltimore Sun regarding Merzbacher’s death.

“Now, as always, is an important time to keep those victim-survivors who Merzbacher harmed so deeply in our prayers,” the archdiocese said. “The archdiocese prays for their strength and for their continued healing.”