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Canton man pleads not guilty to rape, kidnapping charges

A Canton man charged with raping two young boys pleaded not guilty at his arraignment yesterday.

Richard Leroy Merryman, 20, was charged with two counts of rape and one count of kidnapping after he allegedly enticed a 5-year-old boy into a bathroom stall at the Albany Community Center, secured the door, pulled down the boy’s pants, touched his buttocks and performed oral sex on him, according to court documents.

Merryman allegedly raped a 4-year-old boy at the center the same day.

Public defender Glenn T. Jones has been appointed as Merryman’s attorney. Jones entered a plea of not guilty for Merryman on all three charges because he is being evaluated to determine whether he is competent enough to stand trial.

Athens County Assistant Prosecutor Keller Blackburn asked Athens County Court of Common Pleas Judge L. Alan Goldsberry for a $1 million bond for Merryman. Goldsberry accepted the request.

Merryman was arrested April 2 and booked at the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail. His bond was originally set at $500,000.

He has two previous charges of domestic violence and battery from Florida and was a non-registered sex offender at the time of the incident. He also has additional charges against him in Lucas County, which the court is investigating, Blackburn said.

Kidnapping is a first-degree felony. Merryman could spend up to 10 years in prison and pay up to $20,000 if convicted of that charge, according to the Ohio Revised Code.

Since the victims were under the age of 10, Merryman could be sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for the rape counts. He also has the possibility of being sentenced to life without parole, Blackburn said.

Jones reserved Merryman’s right to change his not guilty plea in the future but said his main focus at this time is the competency evaluation.

Merryman’s trial is set to begin July 12.


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