Crime

Bellingham man sentenced for molesting young girl

A Bellingham man must serve three years and five months in prison for molesting a girl younger than 8, a Whatcom County judge ruled this week.

Thad Joseph Mercer, 32, called police on Feb. 1 to report he had touched the girl’s privates while a boy, about the same age, was in the room with them, according to charging papers.

That happened the night before, Mercer confessed, when he’d been watching a movie in bed with the children. He went on to describe another time, around Thanksgiving, when he sexually abused the girl as she slept in her pajamas.

He asked officers to “Taser me to death” as they took him into custody.

At the station, he told police that he has sexual thoughts about everyone he meets, including children, according to court records.

He claimed he had only touched the girl over her clothes in the past.

That night in late January, he said, he felt convinced that the girl wanted it to happen, according to court records. The next day he realized that, clearly, she did not. A close friend urged him to turn himself in.

In jail, doctors diagnosed Mercer with bipolar disorder, according to a state Department of Corrections report. He was put on medication that helped him to think more logically, he said.

Mercer had been arrested a few times before, once for trespassing at a bus depot in Seattle and for getting into a fight with a younger brother. He had not been convicted of a felony before.

Mercer pleaded guilty to child molestation in the second degree and child molestation in the third degree, in a deal reached in August by the deputy prosecutor, Shannon Connor, and the deputy public defender, Angela Anderson.

This week, Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis sentenced Mercer to 41 months in prison, as recommended by state sentencing guidelines. He will serve his time at a state prison where he will get mental health treatment. Once released, he must register as a sex offender.

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bhamcaleb.

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