Update: The Times has received a statement from Daniel Merck's attorney, Blake Poole. The statement reads:
"Mr. Merck is a highly regarded resident of Hall County. He has dedicated his life to teaching and mentoring students within the Hall County School District. He is married, has children and has been a long time member of a local church. I encourage our community to keep an open mind and to note that Mr. Merck is not guilty of any illegal conduct. To the contrary, Mr. Merck he has only been accused of committing a crime. While these are certainly egregious accusations, Mr. Merck denies having a sexually oriented relationship with any of his students at any time."
Original story: The Chestatee High School band director was accused this week of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl back in 2016, according to authorities.
The Hall County School District learned late Tuesday, Oct. 1, of allegations concerning Daniel Berry Merck, 50, having an inappropriate relationship with a former student during the 2015-2016 school year. Merck was suspended that day.
School officials contacted the Hall County Sheriff’s Office the next morning to investigate the allegations.
“Investigators determined that there were several instances of sexual contact between Merck and the student over a period of several months. They also ascertained that Merck was in possession of a sexually explicit digital photograph of the student,” Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derreck Booth wrote in an email.
Merck was charged with sexual exploitation of children and sexual assault by a person of supervisory authority. He was taken into custody Thursday, Oct. 3.
Merck has been with the school system since 1999 and was also a music teacher.
“We are stunned by the revelations described in the charges against Mr. Merck,” Superintendent Will Schofield said in a statement. “Our immediate focus will be to care for the current and former students of Chestatee High School.”