District Attorney David Heckler confirmed to media outlets Friday that his office has opened an investigation into possible witness tampering that may have occurred during the summer child sexual abuse trial of Falls Township tattoo artist Walter Meyerle.
The Bucks County Courier Times first reported in its Friday print edition that a secret grand jury investigation into the possible tamper was underway. The paper reported that Meyerle’s parents were spotted in the Doylestown courthouse for the grand jury.
Heckler told Philly.com Friday that his office was investigating whether the convicted 35-year-old and/or those acting on his behalf did “illegal things to influence the proceedings against him.”
The District Attorney’s Office is working to find if actions were taken to influence the outcome of the trial, the Associated Press reported. Philly.com stated that county detectives are assisting in the investigation.
Stuart Wilder is Meyerle's current attorney. Media reports indicate that Michael Goodwin and Craig Penglase represented him during his trial.
The details on what sparked the investigation were not released to the media.
Meyerle, 35, was found guilty in late August of 170 counts of molesting male and female children from the late 1990s until 2010. He is expected to be sentenced to life in prison come January, court records show.
The tattoo artist was arrested in Bristol after a police investigation revealed he traded a tattoo for sex with a 15-year-old girl. Over the coming weeks and months, more victims - one as young as 4 - came forward to police.
The molestations took place in Bensalem, Bristol Borough, Bristol Township and Falls.
England’s Daily Mail newspaper, which covered the trial, reported that evidence presented in court accused Meyerle of threatening blackmail against a 17-year-old Croydon girl if she did not take photos of her schoolmates in the locker room.
In other texts between the guilty and girl, he told her she was “every guy’s fantasy.” He added that it was a father’s fantasy to get a “daughter with a hot-ass body,” the paper’s website reported.
Many of the victim’s families were dealing with addiction and drug dependency problems.
At the time of Meyerle’s arrest in March 2011, Heckler was reported by Examiner.com as saying that the 35-year-old was one of the worst child molesters he has ever seen.
Meyerle was also found guilty in August of hatching a plot to try to escape from prison.