His 14 young accusers were poised to testify. A two-day hearing was anticipated.
But Walter Meyerle, described by Bucks County prosecutors as the most prolific sexual abuser of children in memory, decided to pass.
Meyerle, 34, waived his preliminary hearing Wednesday on more than 200 crimes, mostly felony assaults over the last 12 years on children 4 to 17.
Meyerle's attorney, Kevin Mark Wray, said he was exploring a possible guilty plea.
Wray also said Meyerle was undergoing mental and emotional health assessments "to see where his head's at."
Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Schorn said Meyerle was welcome to plead guilty and seek a judge's mercy, but that plea bargaining was out.
Meyerle "doesn't deserve any sort of plea negotiation. He is one of the worst sex offenders we've all seen in our collective careers," Schorn said. "We need the victims to know that we are fighting as hard as we can to see that justice is done."
Most of the alleged victims had never met each other before Wednesday morning. Despite knowing of Meyerle's waiver, most came anyway, Schorn said, "to have a solidarity and just show him that they are going to see this through."
Meyerle's accusers declined to speak to reporters.
The unemployed tattoo artist was arrested March 16, charged with repeated assaults on a Bristol Township girl when she was 14 and 15.
After police and prosecutors publicized the arrest, 13 others came forward with similar allegations. Some of the accusations dated back as far as 1999, Schorn said.
Reports on at least six of those cases had been filed with police in Bristol Borough and Bensalem Township, but ultimately not pursued. Schorn declined to say why, but said the failure to prosecute had nothing to do with the accusers' credibility.