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Goleta man arrested in Craigslist lure

June 10, 2009 |  5:44 pm

A Goleta man accused of luring at least three women to his home with a Craigslist ad offering paid housework was arrested on suspicion of exposing himself, Santa Barbara County authorities said.

Glenn Merrill, 59, was free on $5,000 bail Wednesday after he was arrested by Merrill Glenn Sherman detectives, said Santa Barbara County Sheriff's spokesman Drew Sugars. Merrill is awaiting arraignment on three charges of indecent exposure, he said.

On June 1, a woman responded to an ad that Merrill posted on Craigslist.com looking for a caregiver to help with household duties several days a week, Sugars said. When the woman arrived at Merrill’s residence for an interview, he told her that her job duties would include assisting him in taking a shower, Sugars said.

During their talk, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Merrill undressed and asked the applicant to help him as he began to masturbate, the sheriff’s spokesman said. The victim refused and left, he said.

An investigation revealed that at least two other women had reported similar experiences with Merrill in recent weeks, Sugars said. The victims were between the ages of 23 and 34 and arrived alone for their interviews, he said.

“We’d like to know if there is anyone else out there who might have been a victim," Sugars said. “There’s a very good chance there could be.”

Craigslist.com is largely unregulated and is sometimes used by scam artists and others seeking to manipulate people, Sugars said. People should use caution when making contact, he said.

“If your gut tells you something isn’t right, trust your gut," he said. “Especially if you’re going to a private residence.”

Anyone with information about possible victims is asked to call sheriff’s detectives at 805-681-4150, or the department's anonymous tip line at 805-681-4171.

-- Catherine Saillant in Ventura

Photo: Glenn Merrill. Credit: Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department