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Charges reduced against man in mall incident

August 27, 2009

Two charges against a man have been reduced in an incident about a month ago in which a woman said she was forced to have sex against her will in a Valley Mall parking lot, according to court records.

Robert L. Mercer, 52, of Hagerstown, had been charged with first-degree rape and first-degree sex offense, but those charges were downgraded to second-degree rape and second-degree sex offense Monday in Washington County District Court.

Mercer also is charged with second-degree assault, according to court records.

District Judge Ralph France II on Monday set bail for Mercer at $200,000, according to court records.

Mercer was being held Thursday night at the Washington County Detention Center, a spokesperson there said.

The female victim in the case said she agreed to accompany Mercer and another man to a convenience store, police said. Instead of driving to a convenience store, they wound up at Valley Mall, court documents allege.

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The documents allege Mercer climbed into the back seat with the woman, grabbed her wrists and made a sexually suggestive comment.

The woman screamed and Mercer punched her in the right temple, the documents allege. The woman said she fell unconscious and woke up unclothed in the bushes in the parking lot, according to court records..

Two Hagerstown Police Department officers took Mercer into custody Aug. 2 after he was spotted at Washington County Hospital, police said.

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