ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – A man sentenced earlier in the month in federal court for repeatedly cyberstalking, harassing, and threatening to rape multiple women in the area and elsewhere in the country appeared in St. Louis County Circuit Court on Thursday to plead guilty in a separate case.

The St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said Robert Merkle, 54, pleaded guilty to first-degree harassment. However, because of prior convictions, the judge increased Merkle’s sentence from four to seven years in prison.

Merkle admitted to harassing a Town and Country woman while he was on parole for similar crimes with different victims.

In January 2022, the victim told the Town and Country Police Department that Merkle, whom she’d met on a dating site more than seven years earlier, sent a series of suspicious text messages. The messages hinted that he had made a copy of her house key and was planning to break into her home and rape her.

Merkle previously pleaded guilty to five federal felonies, including two counts of interstate communication of threats and three counts of cyberstalking. On Aug. 4, a U.S. District Court judge sentenced Merkle to 71 months in prison plus three years of supervised release.

The victim appeared at Merkle’s plea hearing on Thursday and addressed the court, saying Merkle’s behavior is “severe and traumatizing.”

Merkle’s federal and state sentences will run concurrently.