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Decatur man gets 17-year sentence child rape

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DECATUR — Jon A. Merli, who admitted to raping a girl amid repeated sexual assaults of the Decatur child, was sentenced to 17 years in prison Tuesday.

Merli, 32, took a plea deal negotiated by his defense attorney, Caleb Brown, and pleaded guilty to a single count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, a Class X felony.

Macon County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Geisler accepted the plea deal and dismissed a further charge of predatory criminal sexual assault and one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Geisler ordered the prison sentence to be served at 85% and further ordered Merli to register as a sexual predator for the rest of his life upon his release.

Merli’s criminal behavior, which had gone on for more than a month, came to light on February 16 when the child’s mother complained to Decatur police about her daughter being sexually assaulted.

A sworn affidavit signed by Officer Martin St. Pierre said the child, who was under the age of 10 at the time, described the assaults in great detail and said they had taken place in the man’s bedroom with “her clothes on and clothes off” at different times.

The affidavit quotes Merli as admitting to preying on the child while she was left in his care when her mother was out working. He said the child would lay on his bed watching videos and he would sexually assault her.

“Jon stated the last time it (sexual assault) occurred was the day (the child) complained to her mother,” said St. Pierre in the affidavit.

Imposing sentence, Geisler ordered Merli to provide a DNA sample for listing in a criminal database maintained by the State Police. Merli was also told to submit to testing for sexually transmitted diseases. 

Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid


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