A southeastern Pennsylvania man accused of trading a tattoo for sex with an underage girl now faces sex charges involving more than a dozen other children as young as 4 years old, most of them the children of friends and girlfriends.
Walter Meyerle, 34, of Falls, faces nearly 200 sex crime counts on allegations that he sexually assaulted two adults and 14 children, according to Bucks County prosecutors. The assaults took place over the past 13 years and involved children ranging in age from 4 to 17 years old, authorities said.
"My only hope is that this guy gets five minutes with (Navy) Seal Team Six," Fred Harran, Bensalem's public safety director, told the Bucks County Courier Times. "It doesn't get much lower than this guy. He shouldn't be breathing."
Meyerle was arrested in March for allegedly giving a teen girl a tattoo in return for sexual favors. After that arrest, authorities said, additional victims began to come forward after seeing and hearing publicity about the case. That prompted police and prosecutors to undertake a massive investigation involving many interviews.
"This is not a scenario where all the victims knew one another," said Jennifer Schorn, chief of the major crimes division for the Bucks County District Attorney's Office. "What they describe is someone who was a master manipulator."
Meyerle was arraigned Friday on charges including aggravated indecent assault, statutory sexual assault and corruption of minors and was being held on $5 million bail. Dressed in a yellow prison jumpsuit, he said little during the hearing. The judge told him not to contact any of the victims from jail and asked the same of Meyerle's wife, who authorities said is under investigation as well. A message left for Meyerle's attorney by The Associated Press was not immediately returned.
Investigators said Meyerle victimized the children of his friends and girlfriends, children who were vulnerable because their parents were drinking and taking drugs. Authorities say he sometimes lured younger victims with toys and gifts. In one case, prosecutors said, Meyerle molested the children of a family that moved in with him after their house burned down.
He sexually assaulted a 4-year-old girl 10 times and made her watch pornographic movies, and also molested another girl, who was 4 or 5 years old, 50 or 60 times, according to court documents.
Investigators also allege he told a 15-year-old girl she'd have a surprise in nine months after they had unprotected sex, and the girl ended up getting an abortion, according to court records.
"This is one of the largest child abuse cases I've seen by one individual," Schorn said.
Information from: Bucks County Courier Times, http://www.phillyburbs.com