Tattoo artist's nonjury trial begins in Bucks County

Walter Meyerle leaves a Bucks County courtroom. H is alleged child abuse began in 2001.
Walter Meyerle leaves a Bucks County courtroom. H is alleged child abuse began in 2001. (BILL REED / Staff)
Posted: August 15, 2012

Tattoo artist Walter Meyerle sexually assaulted three young girls repeatedly and persuaded them to engage in phone sex dozens of times, according to accounts presented Monday in the opening of his child sexual abuse trial in Bucks County Court.

The assaults occurred in the Bristol Borough or Morrisville homes of Meyerle, 35, many of them while his girlfriend or wife and son and the girls' relatives slept in nearby rooms, according to the accounts.

He also forced a friend of one of the girls to send him nude photos and to engage in phone sex with the girl, calling the girls his "sex slaves," according to the accounts.

The girls are four of the 15 alleged victims in the 195 sex crimes Meyerle is charged with committing starting in 2001. Boys and girls involved ranged in age from 4 to 17 at the time of the alleged attacks, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Schorn said.

Meyerle is charged with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with minors, aggravated indecent assault, sexual assault, and statutory sexual assault, all felonies. He also faces dozens of misdemeanor charges.

Meyerle waived his right to a jury trial, and his court-appointed lawyers stipulated to the accounts of police officers, the four girls, and a mother that Schorn presented. Lead defense attorney Michael Goodwin and cocounsel Craig Penglase can still challenge the accounts later in the trial and on appeal, Penglase said.

Judge Diane E. Gibbons had ruled in pretrial hearings that most of the prosecution's evidence was admissible, Penglase said.

"All we need is a verdict to appeal the pretrial issues," he said after court adjourned Monday.

In the first case presented, Meyerle is charged with assaulting a 15-year-old Bensalem girl and, about seven years later, assaulting her niece in exchange for a tattoo.

According to the alleged victims' accounts, they lived in a trailer in Bensalem, where they saw him daily. He assaulted the older girl after she asked him for a ride.

They said the assaults continued after the younger girl's mother lost her apartment and they moved into Meyerle's Bristol house. He videotaped the older girl giving him oral sex, and once told her to touch the penis of Meyerle's 4-year-old son, who was in bed with them.

The niece asked Meyerle for a tattoo but refused his advances. When he asked, "How bad do you want a tattoo?", she allowed the man she called "Uncle Walt" and "Daddy Walt" to touch her sexually and have sex with her.

He eventually gave her a star tattoo with a "W" in it.

Meyerle engaged both girls in phone sex, including more than 50 times with the niece, though the girls said they faked it to avoid making him angry.

The younger girl introduced Meyerle to a teenage girlfriend, and he demanded she send him nude photos or he would have her "jumped." He also engaged in phone sex with her about 10 times.

The fourth victim was a girl whom Meyerle allegedly assaulted when she was 9 and 10. According to her mother's account: Meyerle met the girl, her two brothers, and her parents through his girlfriend. The family would visit his Bristol house, and he assaulted the girl about 10 times.

When the family's Bensalem home was destroyed by fire, the family moved into Meyerle's house, and the assaults intensified. He forced her to perform oral sex and masturbated while he touched her sexually.

One assault took place while her brothers slept on the bunk bed above her, and all of them were while her parents and Meyerle's girlfriend slept in nearby rooms.

The girl did not tell anyone about the assaults because she feared Meyerle would kick her family out of the house. She eventually told her mother when she was 15, during a mother-daughter talk about sex.

Other charges against Meyerle involving an alleged plot to escape from the Bucks County prison, where he has been held since March 2011, were severed from the trial, which is expected to last at least a week.


Contact Bill Reed at 215-801-2964 or wreed@philly.com, or follow

on Twitter @breedbucks.

Read his blog, "BucksInq,"

at www.philly.com/bucksinq.

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