Updated 06/21/2012 09:03 PM
Queensbury man charged with sexual act against a child
State Police have arrested a Queensbury man after they say he sexually abused a young child. As YNN's Matt Hunter reports, it's the North Country's fifth high profile case of physical or sexual abuse against a child in the past two years.
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QUEENSBURY, N.Y. – Last Thursday, State Police arrested 27-year-old Anthony Merrill. According to court documents, investigators say the Queensbury man sexually abused a young boy at the Forrest Park mobile home park late last month.
"I'm a parent as well as a professional in the field and it's always heartbreaking to hear those stories," said Brian Perrotto, the therapeutic foster care program director at St. Catherine’s Children Center in Albany.
Merrill was arraigned at Queensbury Town Court and charged with a criminal sex act in the first degree. His arrest marks the North Country's fifth high profile case of serious sexual or physical abuse against a child in the past two years.
In his role at St. Catherine’s, Perrotto frequently works with abused and says the effects can be long lasting.
"Obviously it's very disturbing in any community to have that number of cases," Perrotto said.
Last November, longtime Glens Falls dance instructor Timothy McGuire was sentenced to five years in prison for sexually abusing a former male student.
In February, 24-year-old Jason Hopper of Lake George was accused of pouring dish soap in a four-year-old's mouth in Queensbury.
Hopper's arrest came just days before police say 28-year-old Gary Waite caused the death of his 15-month-old son by violently throwing him on a couch in Glens Falls. Waite is now charged with murder.
Most recently in March, 33-year-old David Cook pleaded not guilty to sexually abusing an infant girl.
While Perrotto says it's impossible to say if these cases signify a trend, he believes parents and the community as a whole can do more to raise awareness.
"I think it's the secrecy around sexual abuse that is one of the more, sort of, factors that contributes to its prevalence and it's also one of the things that makes it difficult to treat," Perrotto said.
Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan declined comment on Merrill’s case. He remains in the Warren County Jail with bail set at $100,000. He’s due back in court Monday morning.