Englewood, Tennessee: On Tuesday, February 15, the McMinn County Sheriff's Office hosted a press conference where they announced that a grand jury had indicted a 38-year-old woman on 23 charges related to the sexual abuse of at least 9 minors at McMinn Central High School between spring 2020 and the end of 2021.
Both Sheriff Joe Guy and District Attorney General Steve Crump office took their time at the microphone to state that they believe there are likely more victims. They both encouraged them to come forward whether they were still juveniles or not, and reassured any other possible victims of their commitment to both their healing and seeking justice on their behalf.
"I want you to feel comfortable coming forward," Crump said. "We encourage you to come forward and talk to us, to talk to these investigators, so that we can make the fullest amount of justice possible for the most amount of people."
Guy stated that while all nine confirmed victims were abused while minors, two had since turned 18.
The investigation into Melissa A. Blair was opened after an anonymous letter was slipped under the door the McMinn County Director of Schools, Lee Parkinson.
Parkinson took a moment during the press conference to commend the individual that provided that letter saying that it was likely this would still be going on had they not come forward.
On December 9, 2021, the Tennessee Department of Children's Services referred the case to the McMinn County Sheriff's Department. By December 15, officers with the McMinn County Sheriff's Department arrived at her home to speak with her, armed with a search warrant.
At that time, she was additionally served with a letter from Parkinson that banned her from school property and any school activities.
After that search warrant, the scope of the investigation grew as more evidence and more victims were identified. It was only on February 15 that the sheriff's office was able to present the case to the grand jury.
That grand jury indicted Blair on 23 counts related to sexual abuse of minors consisting of 18 counts of aggravated statutory rape, four counts of human trafficking by patronizing prostitution and one count of solicitation of a minor.
Blair is accused of making contact with students through social media, arraigning meetings, and then exchanging undisclosed items for sexual encounters.
Following the indictment, Blair turned herself in to the sheriff's department, and was released on $100,000 bond later that evening.
Parkinson explained that Blair was never an employee of the school but had been involved in school boosters. She additionally had a student enrolled in the school that had transferred.