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Lancaster City man charged with rape of 14 year old girl

Jonathan Mercado

LANCASTER, Pa. – A Lancaster man is jailed on several sexual assault charges including rape of a 14 year old girl.  The charges stem from an investigation that began on March 3rd after investigators met with a 14 year old girl and her mother. The juvenile victim reported that she had engaged in sexual contact with an older man, later identified as 26 year old Jonathan M. Mercado. The victim stated that the incident had occurred several weeks earlier at a location in Lancaster City.

The victim stated that since that time Mercado, had attempted to contact the victim via social media, in spite of the fact that the victim had asked him to stop contacting her. The victim and her mother granted consent to allow police to access her social media account and pose as the victim.

On Wednesday, March 22nd Mercado sent several explicit sexual messages to the victim’s account. He arranged to meet with the victim on Friday, March 24th with the understanding that there would be sexual contact between them. Mercado also sent a message that he had “weed” to smoke with the victim. Mercado also sent an explicit photo of male genitalia to the victim via the social media account.

That Friday, Detective Sergeant. Kurt Miller and Detective Aaron Harnish went to the rear of a residence on the 500 block of W. King Street, where Mercado had asked/arranged to meet with the victim.  The detectives located Mercado on the 500 block of W. Grant Street where he was arrested and taken into custody without incident. Mercado was found to be in possession of marijuana at the time of his arrest.

Police Detective Heather Halstead filed a criminal complaint against Mercado, charging him with Criminal Attempt- Sexual Deviate Intercourse, Criminal Attempt-Statuatory Sexual Assault, Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, 2 Counts Unlawful Contact With a Minor, Unlawful Contact With a Minor, Corruption of Minors, Obscene and Other Sexual Materials and Performances, Criminal Use of Communication Facility, Possession With Intent to Deliver- Mariujauna and Criminal Attempt- Indecent Assault.

Following arraignment on those charges Mercado was committed to Lancaster County Prison in lieu of $250,000 bail.