published Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Hamilton County jailer charged with sexual battery placed on paid leave

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    A corrections officer with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office was charged with sexual battery this weekend after a woman alleged he assaulted her on a dance floor. Chattanooga police received a call around 2 a.m. Saturday and responded to the Palms Club at 6925 Shallowford Road. The victim said while she was dancing, Jerry Melbert approached her and then stuck his hand into her blouse.

A Hamilton County jailer was booked into same lockup he normally guards after being accused of molesting a woman on a dance floor, according to Chattanooga police.

Sheriff's Office Cpl. Jerry Melbert, 42, of Chattanooga, faces charges of sexual battery and assault after he allegedly pulled up the zipper on the woman's blouse and placed his finger in the woman's cleavage at The Palms, located at 6925 Shallowford Road.

The woman, who did not know Melbert, was at the club with her husband, who stepped in after Melbert's actions, according to the arrest report.

Melbert fled the scene and someone recorded his license plate number. Chattanooga police reviewed surveillance footage from the club before issuing a warrant for Melbert's arrest.

Sheriff Jim Hammond said an internal affairs investigation will be conducted. Melbert will be placed on paid leave until his first court date, which is set for Aug. 17, according to court records.

"We'll just have to let internal affairs do their thing and the courts do their thing," he said.

After Melbert's first court hearing, a determination will be made on whether to continue to pay him while he faces criminal charges, Hammond said.

Melbert has been employed at the sheriff's office since October 1998. He has a previous disciplinary record with the office, resulting in a demotion from sergeant.

Details on his disciplinary and employment record were not released Monday. In 2009, he made an annual salary of $39,376, according to records.

Melbert is the third sworn law enforcement officer at the sheriff's office to be placed on leave pending the outcome of criminal charges, Hammond said.

School Resource Officer Jeff Baker was charged with two counts of aggravated statutory rape in 2009 after reportedly having sex with a juvenile. His next court date is set for Nov. 15 in front of Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman, according to records. Baker remains on unpaid leave.

Deputy John B. Spaulding has been on leave for about a year facing an aggravated sexual battery charge in White County stemming from a January 2010 grand jury indictment.

The state Department of Children's Services recently filed a protection order in the case, which involves a juvenile. His next court date is set for Nov. 22, according to court clerks.

Contact staff writer Beth Burger at bburger@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6406.

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bigbearzzz said...

Did he walk up behind her?! I mean surely they werent face to face cause I dont know to women that just let complete strangers unzip their blouses....

July 26, 2011 at 9:35 a.m.
Selah said...

Paid leave??? Come on

July 26, 2011 at 10:53 a.m.
kcgirl4982 said...

A third grader would have a problem with all the different versions of this story. One article said after a brief conversation on the dance floor, he zipped up her blouse and stuck his hand down her shirt. This one said he pulled the zipper up and placed his finger between her cleavage. How do you zip UP a blouse and THEN access someone's cleavage? This article said he fled the scene, another article said he was escorted off the premisis. Fleeing and being escorted are two very different things. All these articles appear to be based on the opinion of the reporter and not an objective report of what actually happened which is laughable and makes one question the integrity of those reporting. If they talked on the dancefloor, where was the husband? Surely I wouldn't be on a club dancefloor without mine. Makes you wonder if she was flirting and screamed sexual battery when her husband showed up because no one is going to zip or unzip my blouse unless I want them to. All this leads me to the question - do our local reporters get their information from actual police reports or from the local beauty shop? The answer is more than likely the same as that of "How many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of a Tootsie Pop?" Answer: The world may never know.

July 26, 2011 at 1:04 p.m.
eastridge8 said...

What an idiot! Drunk, I'm sure....

July 26, 2011 at 3:16 p.m.

kcgirl4982, I like your style!

July 26, 2011 at 8:11 p.m.
retired said...

Mrs. Beth Burger: A friend of mine told me a couple of days ago that they new the "husband" that was at the clue was NOT her real husband and he is tired of lieing about it and he will not be at court any more. This issue with Mr. Melbert has been going on for a long time with the Bouncer in the clue. Now if the Chattanooga Police Officer did his job when this incident started. Mr. Melbert would not be going thru this now. Chattanooga Officer on this Case, Check it out or just set there. "Police Pride"

January 28, 2012 at 5:31 a.m.
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