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Sheriff: McMinn Co. woman indicted for exchanging sex with at least 9 underage high school students

The suspect, Melissa A. Blair, 38, is accused of having sexual encounters with at least 9 underage male students at a McMinn County high school.

MCMINN COUNTY, Tenn. — The McMinn County Sheriff's Office arrested an Englewood woman accused of having sexual encounters with nine underage high school students in exchange for items.

McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy held a press conference about the investigation Tuesday afternoon.

The suspect, Melissa A. Blair, 38, is accused of having sexual encounters with at least nine underage male students at McMinn Central High School from spring 2020 through late 2021. The county said she was not an employee at the school, but was a parent and involved in booster clubs.

According to the grand jury indictment, one of the victims was reported to have been as young as 14 years old and turned 15 during a nine-month period investigators suspect the crimes happened. The other victims were reported to have been between 15 to 17 years old. Sheriff Guy said two of the victims have since turned 18.

He suspects more victims are out there and encourages them or their parents to contact the sheriff's office.

According to McMinn County Director of Schools Lee Parkison, he learned about the allegations after someone left an anonymous letter in his office. The sheriff's office said it was also notified about it through the Tennessee Department of Children's Services on Dec. 9, 2021.

On Dec. 15, detectives went to Blair's home and spoke with her before executing a search warrant. The school system banned Blair from school property and activities shortly after.

Credit: McMinn Co. Sheriff's Office
Melissa Blair, 38

Guy said the search warrant revealed evidence, and the investigation grew larger as more victims came forward. On Feb. 15, a McMinn County Grand Jury indicted Blair on 23 counts.

She is facing 18 counts of aggravated statutory rape, 4 counts of human trafficking by patronizing prostitution, and 1 count of solicitation of a minor.

Sheriff Guy said it appeared Blair was talking to the teens on social media, trading items for sexual encounters.

"This case is difficult and shocking to even seasoned detectives," Guy said. "We want to offer support and resources to these victims and their families."

Blair turned herself in to the MCSO on Tuesday after being indicted. She was booked into jail, and Sheriff Guy said an attorney indicated she will try to post the $100,000 bond this evening. The case will be taken up in McMinn County Criminal Court.

An arraignment hearing was held on February 28 at the McMinn County Criminal Court.

Attorney Robert R. Kutz entered a formal appearance and waived formal arraignment on Blair's behalf.

According to court documents, the State of Tennessee made a motion to the court for clarification and additional restrictions for Blair under the conditions of her bond. The conditions stated that Blair will not be allowed on the premises of any school within the 10th Judicial District and that she is prohibited from attending any school-related function or athletic event, specifically at the Etowah Community Ball Park.

The court found the motion to be granted in part and modified some of the conditions of Blair's bond.

Documents show the court ordered that Blair, as a custodian and parent of minor children, may drop off and pick up her children from their respective schools -- but must remain in her vehicle at the time. Blair is prohibited from attending any school function or athletic event. She will not be allowed on the premises of the Etowah Community Ball Field.

All other bond conditions remain in effect, specifically is to have no contact with the alleged victims, court documents stated.

The next court date is scheduled for May 9.

Editor's note: This article was updated on Feb. 16 to correct the name of the high school from McMinn County Central High School to McMinn Central High School.

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