TAMPA — Glenn Edwin Mercer is a retired Air Force captain, a father and a grandfather. On Tuesday, he became a sexual offender after two generations of women united to protect the youngest in their family from the horrors they experienced.
Mercer, 69, was arrested in 2007 on charges that spanned almost four decades.
The case started when a teenage girl disclosed sexual abuse to her family, and a relative in her 40s recalled the same had happened to her, starting when she was 5 years old.
The relative wore a wire to talk to him and gained what the prosecution considered an admission of guilt.
On Tuesday, Mercer pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of attempted rape on that woman, who was a girl in 1971.
As part of the deal, the prosecution dropped the teenager's charge.
But the conviction was enough to give Mercer a sex offender designation, keeping him away from children.
Hillsborough Circuit Court Judge Chet A. Tharpe sentenced Mercer to three years in prison and an additional seven years of sex offender probation.
Three women from his family stood to face him in court Tuesday, including the one who wore the wire.
"I just want to say there's no victory here today," one said. "He stole these young children's innocence."
They blamed him for the cuts the teenage girl inflicted on herself to deal with the pain and said his actions have continued to tear the family apart.
In their case, they said a mother didn't listen, and a grandmother didn't listen, but that victims need to come forward, even if nobody has listened before.
Alexandra Zayas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3354.