Timeline of allegations

Civil and criminal court records reveal a number of allegations made regarding John Merzbacher. Here are key events in his career, and claims made in cases involving him:

1972: The Archdiocese of Baltimore hires Merzbacher to teach English, reading, math and physical education at the Catholic Community School of South Baltimore for $6,100 per year.

1974: A teacher claims he tells school and archdiocesan officials that Merzbacher is abusing students. The principal consults with the archdiocese for guidance. Merzbacher is placed on leave, but reinstated after an internal investigation.

1979: Merzbacher quits to pursue "better job opportunities." Former student Elizabeth Murphy approaches the school principal, Sister Eileen Weisman, to outline allegations that Merzbacher abused students.

1987: Murphy again talks with Weisman, who allegedly tells her to "get on with your life."

1988: Murphy approaches an archdiocesan priest with the allegations. He tells her to inform civil authorities but takes no action himself. Archdiocesan officials say they mistakenly believed they were not required to report the incident because Murphy was no longer a child.

1993: Murphy alerts another priest to the abuse. He approaches the archdiocese and says he is assured that law enforcement will be notified. A lawyer alerts prosecutors on Murphy's behalf, launching an investigation.

1994: More than a dozen former students file civil lawsuits against Merzbacher alleging abuse. Weisman tells a school assembly that she did not know about Merzbacher's sexual abuse.

1995: Merzbacher is convicted of rape and sexual abuse, and sentenced to four life terms plus 10 years. Prosecutors drop other abuse cases; civil lawsuits are dismissed because they were filed too late.

2010: A U.S. District Court judge rules that Merzbacher should get a chance to accept a plea deal he was never told about during the criminal trial. It would release him from prison immediately. Maryland's attorney general appeals the decision.

Oct. 23, 2012: Oral arguments in the case are heard before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond. A decision is expected within the next several months.

SOURCE: State and federal court records

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