Lehigh Valley

Bangor Councilwoman Stephanie Merlo, accused of sexually assaulting teenage girl, will be asked to resign

Merlo's attorney says allegations are not true

Merlo's lawyer responds to allegations

BANGOR, Pa. - A Bangor councilman is calling for the resignation of a fellow council member, Stephanie Merlo, who was arrested this month for allegedly sexually assaulting a teenage girl she met while serving as a volunteer volleyball coach at Pius X High School.

Councilman David Houser says he will make a motion during the Jan. 6 council reorganization meeting asking Merlo to resign.

"As a councilperson, I feel it is in the best interest of the people of the borough that their representatives should be above reproach," Houser said.

Merlo, who was appointed in October to fill a vacant council seat, is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. She is charged with institutional sexual assault and corruption of minors.

Investigators said she was a volunteer volleyball coach at Pius X in Roseto, which is how she met the alleged 17-year-old female victim. Police said the two had a sexual relationship from September to November. Police also said Merlo provided marijuana to the teenager.

Merlo came to the door when 69 News visited her home Saturday. Merlo said she is unable to comment at this time for legal reasons.

Merlo's attorney, Bill Watkins, says the allegations are not true.

"There is a signed statement from the alleged victim that the accusations are not correct and that the alleged criminal activity did not occur," Watkins said. "The alleged victim says the policeman did not understand her comments during the investigation."

According to Watkins, Merlo had no affiliation with the high school this school year.

Merlo's term as a borough councilwoman expires Dec. 31, 2015, according to the Bangor municipal website.

It remains to be seen if she will step down if a majority of council members support Houser's request for the 29-year-old Merlo to step down.

According to Houser, borough code only allows council to request a member step down. Houser says the code does not allow the council to remove a member.

Houser says Merlo was appointed in October, by a 3-2 vote, to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of Councilman Marino Severi. Houser says he believes three other candidates who applied were more qualified, including Bangor Fire Chief Robert Engle, Zoning Board member Jane Gorman and Civil Service Commission member Angel Carrero.

"All three of these candidates have a history of involvement in community service."

Houser says Merlo was the last person to file an application, right before the deadline.

Following Merlo's arrest, the Catholic Diocese of Allentown released the following statement: "From the moment the school was informed by the state police of this matter, the school completely cooperated with the state police investigation and will continue to do so."

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