Manatee County Schools paraprofessional employee arrested for molestation

WWSB ABC7 News at 6pm
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 10:21 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2023 at 11:43 AM EST
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BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - A Manatee County Schools employee has been arrested and charged with Lewd and Lascivious Molestation after a student came forward to a relative.

Angel Rodriguez Mercado, 67, was a paraprofessional at Abel Elementary School. Detectives were notified of the alleged crimes earlier this month.

Detectives began investigating allegations of molestation by Mercado on Nov. 7, 2023, after a third-grade student disclosed information about the crime to a relative. A safety plan was immediately put in place, and Mercado was removed from contact with children at the school. Detectives say that Mercado confessed to the crime.

Mercado remains booked at the Manatee County Jail.

The Sheriff’s Department noted that they commended the bravery and encouraged parents to speak to their children about molestation.

Lieutenant Mark Morie who investigates crimes against children told reporters that this was the first complaint against Mercado. He also added that Mercado previously worked as a janitor before becoming a teacher’s aide, working to teach English to students who speak Spanish.

Morie added that as a parent himself, the situation made him angry.

Detectives also encourage anyone who has information about this case or knows someone who could be a victim, to contact the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office at 941-747-3011.

ABC7 has reached out to Manatee County Schools for comment.