JERSEY CITY (CBSNewYork) – A Jersey City man molested “numerous boys” while working at several Hoboken and Jersey City schools as a coach over the past three decades, prosecutors said Tuesday.
John Mercado, 52, faces sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child and child abuse charges. He had worked as an administrative assistant at the Elysian Charter School in Hoboken for the past 12 years.
The investigation, which is still ongoing, focuses on alleged crimes against seven then-underage boys.
In a statement, the Elysian School said Mercado had joined the staff there in 2002 and had no prior criminal record or disciplinary issues. There are no reports that any Elysian students were involved in the accusations.
The school held a meeting with parents Tuesday night to share the information it had, and staff will be “working sensitively with the children and we have counselors available to talk with the children and answer any questions as needed,” Elysian director Dr. Harry Laub said in a news release.
Mercado was arrested Friday.
Parents were having trouble believing the allegations.
“Until they prove it is 100 percent guilty, for me it is innocent,” a parent who identified herself as Cecilia, told 1010 WINS reporter Sonia Rincon.
Parents speaking with WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman echoed those sentiments.
“Everybody knew him,” Lisa Levy said, “I would never have believed this in a million years.”
Prosecutors say the incidents go back 30 years, to the beginning of Mercado’s adult life.
Anyone with any information about the case is asked to call the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Special Victims Unit at (201) 915-1234.
Mercado is being held on $300,000 bail or bond.
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