John Merzbacher – Archdiocese of Baltimore

by | Aug 10, 2023 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

John Merzbacher

Archdiocese of Baltimore

John Merzbacher Horowitz Law


Convicted: 1995

Died: 2023


Assignment History:

  • 1960-1962      Teacher, Highlandtown Elementary School, Baltimore, MD
  • 1963-1970      Teacher, John Ruhurah Public School 228, Baltimore, MD
  • 1970-1972      Teacher, Patterson Park Public School 13, Baltimore, MD
  • 1972-1979      Teacher, Catholic Community Middle School, Baltimore, MD


Summary of Abuse Allegations Against John Merzbacher:

John Merzbacher is one of the 156 individuals identified by the Maryland Attorney General as having been accused of sexually abusing minors during their tenure with the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

According to the Attorney General’s report, a woman reported in 1993 that she had been sexually abused by Merzbacher from 1972 to 1975, beginning when the victim was a sixth-grade student at Catholic Community Middle School in Baltimore. Merzbacher was the victim’s homeroom and English teacher when she was in 6th grade. During lunchtime, when the other students were outside, Merzbacher would bring the victim back into the school to sexually abuse her. Every day, Merzbacher would call the victim into the neighboring room to his classroom and sexually abused her. Merzbacher also called in male students and directed them to sexually abuse the victim. Merzbacher brought a gun into school, holding it to the victim while placing her on his lap. Merzbacher played Russian Roulette in school and fired the gun over the heads of the students in the classroom. Merzbacher hit the victim and the other students frequently during class. Merzbacher was also known to grope female students and squirt male students in the crotch with water guns. Merzbacher was known to be physically abusive towards his students.

In 1994, Merzbacher was indicted in the Baltimore City Circuit Court for the rape and child sexual abuse of the victim. Merzbacher was convicted in 1995 and sentenced to serve four life terms in prison plus ten years. The State’s Attorney for Baltimore City additionally accused Merzbacher of abusing at least thirteen other students during the 1970s.

According to the Attorney General’s report, during the deposition for the case, one victim testified that her father complained to Merzbacher about him sexually abusing the victim in class. Merzbacher then held a gun to the victim’s head and raped her as well as forcing a male student to rape her.

According to the report, another victim reported that Merzbacher frequently sexually abused him in front of other students and forced him to sexually abuse female students. Merzbacher physically abused the victim in class. The victim went to Merzbacher’s home, where Merzbacher raped the victim.

According to the report, a third victim testified that Merzbacher raped her at gunpoint and forced her boyfriend to rape her as well. Over an eight-month long period, Merzbacher raped the victim approximately thirty times, at the Catholic Community Middle School and the Rockaway Beach Fire Department.

According to the report, a fourth victim testified that when she was in eighth grade, Merzbacher sexually abused her, assaulted her with a smoking pipe, and forced three male students to sexually abuse her with him.

According to the report, between 1972 and 1979, Merzbacher raped and tortured at least 12 victims, threatened to kill them and their families, usually while holding them at gun point.

According to the report, an investigation conducted by the Archdiocese of Baltimore conducted in 1994 identified 27 potential additional victims of Merzbacher.

According to the report, a woman reported in 2010 that she had been sexually abused by Merzbacher and knew of many other victims who had not come forward.

According to the report, in addition to the sexual abuse perpetrated by Merzbacher at Catholic Community Middle School, Merzbacher sexually abused children at John Ruhurah in Baltimore. In 2019, a woman reported having been sexually abused by Merzbacher in 1969 and 1970, when she was in 6th grade at John Ruhurah School. Merzbacher regularly took the victim into a cloakroom, where he would sexually abuse the victim. On another occasion, Merzbacher drove kids home from a ballgame, dropping off the other kids before the victim, then sexually abusing the victim and threatening her life. The victim also reported that Merzbacher repeatedly brought a handgun into school, as well as Nazi paraphernalia. Merzbacher was physically abusive and demanded students to physically abuse each other.

According to media reports, Merzbacher was released from prison in 2010.

Merzbacher’s name does not appear on the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s list of individuals credibly accused of sexual misconduct with a minor, as the Archdiocese’s list identifies clergy, whereas Merzbacher was a lay teacher.

According to media reports, Merzbacher died in 2023.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Baltimore in Maryland. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Maryland, contact our office today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help. Contact us at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today.