Former jail employee pleads guilty to child abuse captured on video
Rockland — A Rockland man has pleaded guilty to felony aggravated assault, class B, and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child for an assault on a 12-year-old boy that was captured on video.
Douglas Merrifield, 34, was arrested and charged in July, and pleaded guilty to the charges in an Oct. 13 court appearance. He waived the right to have the charges presented to a grand jury. He is scheduled for sentencing in December.
As previously reported in this paper, the assault came to light when a woman contacted the Knox County Sheriff’s Office in May to report ongoing child abuse. She stated she was afraid to report the abuse because Merrifield used to work as a corrections officer at Knox County Jail. Eventually, she gave police a video that showed Merrifield choking the child, kneeing the child, and putting the child into arm and leg bars. The child is seen whimpering, repeatedly crying out in pain, and, at one point, convulsing. The final 50 minutes of the video shows the child standing with his head against the wall.
Detective Dwight Burtis said in an affidavit filed in Knox County Unified Court that he recognized some of the chokeholds Merrifield was using, one of which is designed to stop blood flow to the brain.
Aggravated assault, class B carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.