• Hall County band teacher arrested, accused of sexually exploiting teen girl

    By: Zachary Hansen, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Updated:

    HALL COUNTY, Ga. - A Hall County high school band director was arrested Thursday after allegedly sexually exploiting and assaulting a 16-year-old student on several occasions, authorities said.

    Daniel Berry Merck, 50, faces charges of sexual exploitation of children and sexual assault by a person of supervisory authority, the Hall County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. The Hall County School District confirmed he's worked at Chestatee High School since 1999 as a music teacher and band director.

    The sheriff's office said it was contacted by the school district Wednesday after allegations emerged that Merck had a sexual relationship with a teen girl in 2016, the release said. The school district said it found out about the allegations late Tuesday afternoon and had suspended Merck that night.

    Over a period of several months, Merck and the teenage girl allegedly had sexual contact. Merck also allegedly had a sexually explicit photograph of the student, the release said. 

    He was booked into the Hall County jail, where he remained Thursday night, jail records show. The investigation by the sheriff's office is ongoing.

    District superintendent Will Schofield said in the news release that, "We are stunned by the revelations described in the charges against Mr. Merck. Our immediate focus will be to care for the current and former students of Chestatee High School."

    In March, another Chestatee High School teacher resigned after being accused of sending inappropriate texts to a 16-year-old student, AJC.com previously reported. He was arrested in April on misdemeanor charge of electronically furnishing obscene material to a minor. 

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