Kimberly A. Merson, a former substitute teacher convicted of having sexual contact with Francis Scott Key High School boys, has been a model jail inmate, goes to church weekly and is making progress in her psychotherapy, a Carroll County judge was told yesterday.
But that doesn't necessarily mean Merson's 18-month sentence on work release at Carroll County Detention Center should be reduced, said Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. The judge said he would take a few days to consider a motion to reduce the sentence of Merson, 25, of Union Bridge.
"I appreciate your time this morning and the opportunity to be here," said Merson after her shackles were removed. Dressed in a tailored dark suit, she thanked Beck for giving her the freedom to work as a receptionist and sales agent, to go to church and to see her psychiatrist. She apologized for the pain and suffering she had caused the boys and their families.
"I hope the court will be merciful and allow me to move on," said Merson, who was accused of engaging in sexual activities with nine teen-age boys. The acts escalated from giving them alcohol and nude photographs of herself to sexual relations in cars and residences during the 2000-2001 school year.
Merson pleaded guilty Sept. 26 to four counts of child sexual abuse by a custodian, a third-degree sexual offense, and six counts of contributing to certain conditions of a child by providing alcohol to them. She was ordered to serve 18 months of a five-year sentence.
Defense attorney Richard D. Bennett asked Beck to reduce Merson's jail time to six months.
Publicity - including attention from the national media - might have affected the sentence, Bennett said, and noted that the defense did not seek a trial that would have dragged the victims into court to be embarrassed, even though the defense never saw proof of psychological damage to the boys.
He compared Merson's case with those of several male defendants in similar cases who received shorter sentences. Bennett said he thought it best to "let the dust settle a little bit" and see how Merson progressed before pursuing the motion to reduce her sentence.
Merson could have received sentences totaling more than 80 years on all of her guilty pleas, Beck and Deputy State's Attorney Tracy A. Gilmore said.