FRANKLINVILLE, NJ (Gloucestercitynews.net)(July 3, 2019)--Staff Sergeant James Merritt, age 58, employed at the Delsea Regional High School in the
Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) Program, has been criminally charged by the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office with Official Misconduct and Criminal Sexual Contact after a month-long investigation assisted by both the Franklin Township Police Department and Delsea Regional High School leadership.
Staff Sergeant Merritt, an employee with the Delsea Regional School District since 2011, was assigned as the Staff Sergeant of the Junior Army ROTC program. He surrendered at the Franklin Township Police Department on Tuesday, July 2, 2019 and was released pending a first appearance in Gloucester County Superior Court, Woodbury, New Jersey on August 22, 2019. Merritt was subsequently suspended by the Delsea Regional School District pending the outcome of the investigation.
According to the charges, Merritt used physical force or coercion to touch an 18-year-old student’s intimate parts over the clothing, in an ROTC classroom during school hours. Merritt utilized his position within the school district to form an inappropriate teacher/student relationship where he engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with the student, during both regular school hours and after. He utilized text message conversation on his cellular telephone to form and maintain this relationship.
Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of their rights as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State Law.