Court documents shed some light on the alleged victims' ages - one as young as 14 - in the case against a McMinn County, Tennessee, woman accused of having sexual contact with at least nine minor boys between spring 2020 and late December 2021.
Melissa A. Blair, 38, of Englewood, faces 23 criminal counts in her alleged contact with the boys, including 18 counts of aggravated statutory rape, four counts of human trafficking by patronizing prostitution and one count of solicitation of a minor, according to the indictment issued Feb. 15 by the McMinn County grand jury.
Aggravated statutory rape - as a class D felony the most serious of the counts against her - carries a sentence upon conviction of two to 12 years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine, according to state law.
Blair turned herself in Tuesday and was released on $100,000 bond. She faces arraignment in circuit court Feb. 28, according to court officials. Blair's lawyer, Knoxville attorney Robert R. Kurtz, declined to comment when contacted Wednesday by phone.
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The boys attended McMinn Central High School when the alleged incidents happened. The investigation started in December, and seven of the boys are still under age 18, while two others are now adults, McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy said Tuesday in a statement on the arrest. Blair's only connection to local schools is as a parent of a student, the sheriff said.
Guy said he couldn't elaborate further on how items were allegedly traded for sexual encounters but he said "social media was the vehicle for most of this."
Court records allege the youngest of the boys was 14 and two others were 15 when the incidents occurred. The remaining boys were 16 or 17. Court records do not contain specific case details beyond citing the violations of state law.
According to the 23-count indictment charging Blair, she faces one count of solicitation of minor, human trafficking by patronizing prostitution and three counts of aggravated statutory rape related to one boy who was 14 at the time of some of the allegations.
Then there are 15 individual counts of aggravated statutory rape against Blair involving eight other boys now 15-18 years old stemming from incidents occurring on various dates between April 2020 and December 2021, court records show.
Blair's other three counts of human trafficking by patronizing prostitution are related to three 17-year-olds linked to incidents from two different time periods in 2020 and 2021, records show.
One parent of an alleged victim in the case this week told WTVC Channel 9 the two-month investigation has been an ordeal.
"We are devastated at this point. I cannot in words describe what it feels like to be going through what we're going through right now. It is every emotion that you can imagine, and none of them happy," the unidentified parent said in the report.
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"People focus mostly on the perpetrator," the parent told the Chattanooga media outlet. 'They don't realize how it devastates a family, how the families are at home and we don't know what to do next. I have no idea how to go forward with this.
"This isn't just about putting a perpetrator behind bars. This is about families healing."
According to the indictment, prosecutors also are seeking the judicial forfeiture of a 2016 GMC Yukon allegedly used by Blair in the encounters with the boys.
Meanwhile, authorities continue to seek additional alleged victims but none had surfaced Wednesday, Guy said in a follow-up email.
Anyone with information related to the investigation is urged to contact the McMinn County Sheriff's Office at 423-745-5620.
Contact Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton.