"I'd be willing to turn my life upside down again, I live in Massachusetts now, and I'd be willing to come back to Baltimore just to have that man be put where he needs to be," she said.

She and other students of Merzbacher's are prepared to come forward with their stories if need be.

Former Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien sent a letter to Davis "in support of the courageous survivors of John Merzbacher" asking that the judge allow the life sentences to stand. The Archdiocese settled civil claims against it with payouts over the years; Tiburzi said she received $42,000.

"The abuse and threats have had an enormous impact on these innocent people, first as children, then as adults, as well as their families, and I fear that granting Merzbacher's request to be released from custody will cause further harm to these who have already suffered greatly," O'Brien wrote. "To nullify the jury's guilty verdict and prior judge's sentence would be a great injustice to those who risked much and received some measure of justice from Merzbacher's original criminal trial."

Davis said in his ruling that the plea deal should be offered to Merzbacher, but it was contingent upon finding a Baltimore judge willing to honor it, and Merzbacher agreeing to take the term.

It's now up to the 4th Circuit to determine whether that ruling will stand. Briefs are due in the case by the end of April according to the schedule posted Wednesday.

"It's just a potential travesty," Elizabeth Murphy said.

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

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