A woman in Tennessee is accused of exchanging items for sexual encounters with nine high school boys she spoke with on social media, officials said.
Melissa A. Blair, 38, of Englewood — about 60 miles northeast of Chattanooga — was indicted on Feb. 15 on 23 charges, including 18 counts of aggravated statutory rape, four counts of human trafficking by patronizing prostitution and one count of solicitation of a minor, McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy announced.Guy said the victims, students at McMinn Central High School, were all minors when Blair had sexual encounters with them in exchange for items between the spring of 2020 and until late 2021.
He declined to specify what those items were during a news conference last week.
Blair could not be reached for comment by NBC News. Her attorney, Robert Kurtz, declined comment on Tuesday.
McMinn County Director of Schools Lee Parkison said during the joint media briefing he was surprised the allegations against Blair — a parent who was involved in booster clubs — stayed secret for so long, especially in the age of social media.
Authorities began investigating Blair after district officials were alerted to her through an anonymous letter, Parkison said.
“I want to thank the person who put this anonymous letter in my office,” he said. “Without them, this could still be going on.”
The sheriff’s office received a referral from the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services on Dec. 9, Guy said.
About a week later, detectives with the sheriff’s office went to Blair’s home and spoke with her. Authorities later executed a search warrant at her house, according to the sheriff’s office.
Stephen Crump, district attorney general with the Tenth Judicial District, said during last week’s media briefing that investigators suspect there are more victims.
“In a case like this, it truly is about those who were victimized,” he said. “It’s not about a headline. It’s not about a trial. It’s about trying to make, as much as possible, our victims whole.”
In a statement Tuesday, Crump said: “We are extremely concerned that other victims may exist. I know that this is a difficult topic for children and parents to discuss. It is crucial that we identify any additional victims. We believe that several may exist. I am asking any victims and their parents to come forward if they haven’t.”
Two of Blair’s alleged victims are now adults, Guy said.
According to the indictment, the victims, who were identified by their dates of birth, were born between the years 2003 and 2006.
Blair turned herself in to the sheriff’s office last week and later posted $100,000 bond, authorities said.
Her arraignment is scheduled for Monday, Crump said.
Officials ask if anyone knows of additional victims to contact the McMinn County Sheriff’s Office at 423-745-5620 or the Tenth Judicial District at 423-744-2830.