Norman Merrill II, 46, of Chester, was sentenced Monday April 24 to serve 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to possessing child sexual abuse material, previously referred to as child pornography. United States District Judge Christina Reiss also ordered that after Merrill’s release from prison, Merrill must serve a ten-year term of supervised release, federal authorities said Tuesday.
Merrill was also ordered to pay $3,750 in restitution, a $5,000 fine, and a $3,000 special assessment to be paid to the Child Pornography Victims Reserve Fund.
According to court records, on May 7, 2022, Chester Police Officers received reports concerning potential voyeurism occurring at Merrill’s home. During the investigation, witnesses alleged they had found a hidden recording device in a bathroom at Merrill’s home, and that Merrill was surreptitiously recording young girls who were walking in front of him while at Green Mountain High School, where he was employed as a teacher. After interviewing witnesses, Chester Police Officers obtained search warrants for Merrill’s home and electronics, which were executed on May 11, 2022. Chester Police Officers seized numerous electronic devices, including cellular phones, digital storage media, “pinhole cameras,” and a “spy camera.”
The Vermont State Police conducted a preliminary forensic examination of a memory card seized from the residence which revealed numerous voyeuristic videos taken in residential bathrooms. Some of these videos were taken in a bathroom of Merrill’s residence and were determined to depict nude minor children. Special Agents with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agreed to assist local and state authorities with examining the contents of Merrill’s devices to determine whether any of the images and videos qualified as child pornography under federal law.
The HSI investigation revealed that Merrill had placed hidden cameras in a deliberate effort to obtain video footage of a particular female minor. Merrill placed hidden cameras in the bathrooms of two residences, including one hidden camera placed underneath a bathroom sink, to capture the minor female’s genitalia while she occupied the bathroom. Merrill possessed screen-captures created from the videos of the minor female, which were intentionally created to focus solely on her genitalia. With the hidden cameras, Merrill also captured voyeuristic videos of additional children and some adults who used the bathroom in his residence. Some of these videos captured nudity, such as exposed breasts and/or visible genitalia.
The review of Merrill’s electronic devices revealed additional misconduct involving children, including a single file depicting the sexual abuse of a child, a file which Merrill did not create. Merrill also had a number of photographs of female children, the faces of which appear to have been clipped and digitally overlaid onto images of adult pornography. Merrill was also in possession of videos that appear to have been covertly taken at a school, suspected to be the school where Merrill was employed, depicting females in revealing clothing.