MONROE COUNTY, Pa. — After 22 years on a police force, a corporal in the Poconos is now facing rape charges.
Steven Mertz, 53, of Lehighton, was arraigned Wednesday afternoon at a magistrate’s office in Monroe County.
According to court papers, the incident happened on October 16, a short time after former Cpl. Steven Mertz pulled the 26-year-old victim over for a DUI traffic stop on Long Pond Road.
Investigators said after Mertz brought the woman to State Police Fern Ridge for processing, he was told he could take the victim back to her home in Tunkhannock Township because she would not be going in front of a magistrate that night.
The woman told Mertz that the loss of a family member led her to drink heavily that night. Mertz told the woman he was also going through family problems and would not file DUI charges if the victim agreed to go and talk someplace more private.
According to court papers, the victim indicated to Mertz that she understood that a sexual favor was going to be expected and felt desperate to get out of the DUI charges, so she went with him.
After the alleged sexual assault, the victim told a friend about the incident and the friend suggested she make a report.
The Monroe County district attorney’s office also got a hold of explicit text messages between Mertz and the victim the day after the alleged assault.
Mertz was a member of the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department for 22 years.
“This was a shock to myself as well as the men and women of the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department, as well as the Monroe County district attorney’s office,” said Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Chris Wagner.
Bail for Mertz was set at $50,000 cash. Mertz also had to give up his weapons and is not to have contact with the victim.