When members of the United States military travel the world, they're seen as ambassadors of a sort for America. But one Air Force sergeant took advantage of his time in the military to spread the polar opposite of the American dream. Technical Sgt. Michael Merritt is facing a dishonorable discharge after pleading guilty to molesting young girls in America and overseas.
Merritt faces 25 years in federal prison for sexual assault and kidnapping in a plea deal that will protect the children he hurt from being forced to appear in a military trial. Oh, and those children?
Yeah, they range from just 5 years old up to age 14, and they hail from a variety of areas including Wyoming and Germany, where Merritt was stationed at Ramstein Air Force base.
What a disgusting monster.
I don't blame the military here -- I should make that clear -- but the way he used his travel as an Airman to access more victims reminds me of the way Catholic priests accused of molestation have taken being restationed to do the same. It's almost as if his service opened up his pool of victims, and he took advantage of it to spread his crimes across the globe. He used his job to find more kids to prey on.
Merritt's pleas cover crimes against four girls, ages 5 to 14, from 2003 through 2013, but there were likely more. The plea only covers US military dependent children; not a German national child Meritt is accused of abusing. And who knows what else he did? He traveled! Who knows how many kids he had access to! And no doubt parents looked at his service to country as some sort of sign that he was a decent enough fellow, why not allow him to be around their kids?
The military may not be to blame, but being a member certainly helped this monster.
Fortunately, his reign of terror over children is over. A military judge is sending him away to the military prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, and he'll be stripped of his rank, forced to forfeit his pension, and be dishonorably discharged.
Do you tend to think of military folks as exemplary citizens or are they just like everyone else in your eyes -- just as likely to commit a crime?
Image via Chuck Simmins/Flickr