Suspect in Vernon sex slave case enters not guilty plea - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Suspect in Vernon sex slave case enters not guilty plea

© Jay Mohler-Avery & Candace Merriam © Jay Mohler-Avery & Candace Merriam

A woman connected to a sex slave case in Vernon involving a nurse practitioner faced a judge for the first time Friday.

Police said Candace Merriam was in on the plan with Jay Mohler-Avery in an attempt to solicit sex from a mother in exchange for a place to stay.

The twisted story started in mid-October, when Vernon police said an unidentified patient of Mohler-Avery told them he had tried to recruit her, as well as her four children, one only 18 months old, for sex.

After being notified of what was happening, police said they immediately launched an investigation into the claims.

"During the course of the investigation, Mohler-Avery sought to arrange for his adult patient/victim to become his sex slave and also have her 18-month-old child participate in the sex acts," said Vernon police Detective James Grady.

According to police, Mohler-Avery wanted to organize a family of sex slaves in exchange for a place to stay, and he was using his position as a licensed nurse practitioner to recruit patients to play the part.

"He offered to financially support her and her children for the rest of their lives, in exchange for being his domestic slave," the arrest papers read. "He described the role ... as a person who maintains the home, and is always willing and available to satisfy his sexual needs whenever he wanted, regardless of who was in the room."

The case is still under investigation by the Vernon Police Department and there is a possibility of more victims and arrests.

"It's still an open investigation," said Police Lt. William Mier. "And we  have not ruled anything at this point."

Investigators said since the news broke, they've received more than a dozen phone calls from people claiming they have relevant information to the case.

However, detectives won't say if any are victims, just that they're interviewing everyone.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Vernon Police Department at 860-872-9126.

At the same time of Mohler-Avery and Merriam arrests, neighbors told Eyewitness News that their home in Hartford was raided.

"So for me to be living right next door to someone like that and not even know what's going on and my 3-year-old comes outside and plays in the backyard, it's mind-blowing," said neighbor Kamara Ford.

At Superior Court in Tolland on Friday, an attorney for Merriam, who is facing first-degree conspiracy to commit sexual assault and conspiracy to commit risk of injury to child, entered a not guilty plea. She is being held on a $250,000 bond and is expected to return to court in January.

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