Vermont teacher accused of secretly recording girls in home bathroom and at school



Published: 05-19-2022 10:14 PM

A teacher at Green Mountain Union High School in Chester, Vt., has been arrested on federal charges of producing and possessing child sex abuse materials, allegedly using hidden cameras in his home bathroom and recording young girls walking in front of him at the school.

Norman Merrill II, 45, of Chester, is due to appear Friday in U.S. District Court in Burlington. Federal prosecutors filed notice Thursday that they will argue that Merrill should be detained while the case against him is pending.

“The preliminary assessment of the evidence supports a finding that defendant Merrill cannot be released on conditions, given the danger he poses to the community,” Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Ophardt wrote in the prosecution’s filing.

“Merrill’s conduct is particularly concerning and indicative of danger to the community in light of his position as a high school teacher, and his apparent violation of the trust the community has placed in him to care for and teach their children,” Ophardt wrote.

Merrill was arrested Thursday after he was indicted by a federal grand jury on the charges of producing and possessing child sex abuse materials, according to prosecutors.

Chester Police Department officers on May 7 received a report of potential voyeurism at Merrill’s home, according to court documents made public on Thursday. Two days later, Chester police interviewed a child who reported finding a recording device in a bathroom at Merrill’s residence, the documents showed.

The child also told police about witnessing Merrill at Green Mountain Union High School, positioning his phone by his waist as if he was recording images of the young girls who were walking in front of him, according to court records.

Chester police obtained search warrants on May 10 for Merrill’s home and electronic devices and executed them the next day, seizing several devices including “pinhole cameras” and a “spy camera,” the filings indicated.

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Vermont State Police found a memory card filled with numerous videos taken in bathrooms of unclothed young girls, according to court records.

“The voyeuristic videos appear to have been produced in multiple different bathrooms,” prosecutors wrote in a filing seeking to hold Merrill in custody. Authorities had not yet identified “all of the bathrooms depicted in the videos” but had associated two of them with houses “frequented” by Merrill, they wrote.

A LinkedIn account under Merrill’s name identified him as a “Teacher/Dept Chair at Green Mountain Union High School.” As of Thursday afternoon, a faculty directory for the school listed Merrill as a language arts teacher. It was not clear how long he has worked at the school.

School officials, including Two Rivers Supervisory Union Superintendent Lauren Fierman, could not be reached for comment following the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s announcement of Merrill’s arrest late Thursday afternoon.

About two years ago, Dean Stearns, former South Royalton School principal, was sentenced to five years in jail for secretly recording teenage girls at his home in Sharon, the Valley News reported at the time.