DA-Hoovler: Guilty Plea in Rape Case

May 18, 2024

District Attorney Hoovler Announces Guilty Plea in Child Rape Case

Craig Merlock to be Sentenced to 18 Years to Life in Prison

Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, Craig Merlock, age 45, of Goshen, pled guilty in Orange County Court to Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child.  At sentencing on August 14, 2024, the People will recommend that he be sentenced to twenty-five (25) years to life in prison, which is the maximum sentence permitted by law.  Under the plea agreement announced on the record at the time that Merlock pled guilty, the court agreed to impose a sentence of eighteen (18) years to life in prison.  As part of the sentence, Merlock will also be registered as a sex offender under the New York Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA).  At the plea proceedings, Merlock admitted that on July 24, 2023, being eighteen (18) years old or more, he did engage in oral sexual conduct with an individual who was less than thirteen (13) years old.

District Attorney Hoovler thanked the New York State Police and their Computer Crimes Unit for their investigation which led to the arrest of the defendant.  District Attorney Hoovler also thanked the Orange County Child Abuse Investigation Unit for their assistance with the investigation.

“The violation of a child’s innocence by vile sexual acts must be met with the strongest punishments available to the justice system,” said District Attorney David M. Hoovler. “The only adequate way to address such wicked conduct is to remove offenders such as this one from society.  I commend the dedication of the skilled investigators who uncovered this defendant’s crimes.  My Office, together with our law enforcement partners will never cease in our pursuit of sexual predators.  We will continue to provide support for victims of sexual assault and seek to hold offenders accountable for their actions.”

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Michael Purcell.

A criminal charge is merely an allegation by the police that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.