Fireman charged in sex crimes

Daily Commercial Staff Writer
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LADY LAKE A Lake County firefighter was arrested Wednesday and charged with eight counts of unlawful sex with a minor.

The charges against David Paul Mertz, 39, stem from an reported eight-month sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. The girl said many of the encounters took place in two of the fire stations, according to police reports.

A police report was filed against Mertz in Lady Lake on Oct. 2 and an interview took place.

In that interview, the girl told police Mertz would take her into the vehicle bay and perform sexual acts on her and with her.

“He instructed her not to tell anyone because he could lose his job and his kids,” the girl said, according to the report.

The girl said the incidents would happen about once a month from February to August. One of her co-workers also filled out a statement for police, stating the co-worker observed one of the sexual encounters at a fire station.

During the investigation, police also recovered sexually explicit letters written by the girl to Mertz.

The girl also told police four other sexual encounters took place at Mertz’s home in Wildwood. Wildwood police are investigating those incidents.

Mertz was placed in the Lake County Jail on a $40,000 bond. He has also been placed on administrative leave, with pay. Fire department officials said they are waiting for more information from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.