Crime

Stanislaus deputies arrest Modesto sex offender on suspicion of child molestation

A man listed on the California Megan’s Law website of sex offenders as a transient living in Modesto was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14.

Nicholas Andrew Mercer, 31, wears a GPS ankle monitor and has been on parole since 2015 after a 2013 conviction on the same charge, according to the Megan’s Law site and Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Joshua Clayton.

On April 25, deputies were dispatched to a trailer on the 400 block of South Seventh Street on a report of a possible child molestation, reported by Child Protective Services.

The alleged victim, a 6-year-old girl, reported three molestation incidents that occurred about a year ago, Clayton said. “The victim was currently nowhere near or involved with possible suspect ... meaning the child was not in any danger,” the sergeant said in an email.

Because there was no imminent threat to the girl’s safety, the case was forwarded to detectives to conduct a CAIRE (child abuse interview, referrals and evaluation) at a later time, Clayton said. Detectives interviewed the girl May 3.

On May 11, on an unrelated incident, sheriff’s detectives assisted parole officers with a parole compliance check at Mercer’s residence on the 1800 block of Walpole Drive, near Bret Harte Elementary School. A single child pornographic image was found on his tablet computer, Clayton said, and two pairs of girls panties with semen on them also were found.

Mercer was arrested on suspicion of possession of child pornography and for violation of his parole.

Wednesday, after being released from custody, Mercer again was contacted by sheriff’s detectives and, after a new interview, was arrested on a fresh charge of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14, Clayton said.

The suspect remained in custody Thursday morning on that charge and for parole violation and failure to register as a sex offender. Bail is set at $150,000.

The Megan’s Law site says Mercer has a known alias of Nicholas Andrew Tatum.

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