Former coach convicted

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A former Harlem High School girls softball coach was convicted Thursday of the sexual assault of a student.

Melissa Lee Chase, former teacher and coach at Harlem High School, was convicted of a sexual assault on a student.  Special
Special
Melissa Lee Chase, former teacher and coach at Harlem High School, was convicted of a sexual assault on a student.

Judge Carl C. Brown Jr. issued the verdict in Richmond County Superior Court after presiding over Melissa Chase's bench trial.

Ms. Chase, 29, stood accused of sexual assault against a person in school for having a single sexual encounter with a 16-year-old girl in November.

Ms. Chase had been the teenager's gym teacher the previous year, the girl testified Thursday. By the time they became sexually intimate Nov. 3, Ms. Chase was no longer her teacher and the teenager was not a member of the girls' softball team at Harlem.

But, as Assistant District Attorney Adam King stressed in questioning witnesses, Ms. Chase was in a position of authority over all students at lunchtimes and in the school's common areas.

Alvin Griffin, Harlem principal, testified Ms. Chase had been a good teacher without any record of disciplinary action. She resigned when authorities learned of her relationship with the student, he testified.

Although 16 is the age of consent in Georgia, under the law those in a position of authority over others - such as teachers, psychiatrists or jailers - are prohibited from having sexual relations with anyone subject to their authority. Consent is not a defense.

Judge Brown ordered Ms. Chase to be jailed after her conviction. A sentencing date has not been set. She faces a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence.

The only way Ms. Chase might avoid that sentence is if the judge is convinced she meets six special conditions, her attorney, Greg Leopard, said.

To qualify for a possible sentence below the 10 years in prison, the judge must find that Ms. Chase has no prior sex crime conviction, she did not use a weapon, there is no evidence of similar criminal conduct, the victim didn't suffer any physical harm, she did not transport the victim, and she did not physically restrain the victim.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

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edamrauer
0
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edamrauer 06/29/07 - 05:20 am
0
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I certainly HOPE that the

I certainly HOPE that the girls parents understand how this will effect Ms. Chase for the rest of her life. I certainly hope that the parents of the girl realize that they're daughter is obviously a lesbian and that is the fear they are acting over. I realize that consent is not a defense but the girl, in all actuality, DID consent. It states in this article that Ms. Chase was an authority figure over LUNCH. WHAT??? Common areas? I mean, come on, Ms. Chase was NOT the girl's direct teacher. In addition the girl CONSENTED. I support Ms. Chase. I hope this nightmare ends for her soon.

bubba01
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bubba01 06/29/07 - 06:02 am
0
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You (edamrauer) must be as

You (edamrauer) must be as sick as the teacher is. It makes no difference that the girl consented the teacher also could have refused. The teacher knew the position she was in being a teacher at the school no matter if she wasn't the girl's direct teacher. I say give her the max.

doorag
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doorag 06/29/07 - 06:24 am
0
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WOAH, Horse Feather

WOAH, Horse Feather Leopard!!! If consent is not a defense, then none of the conditions for special sentencing applies--except maybe "no prior conviction". If the 16 yr old was a willing participant, the other five would be moot! Hope the judge doesn't fall for that one. Oh, and by the way edamrauer, you are that stupid, aren't you? The nightmare will end for Ms Chase, her first night in prison. She will have all the lez friends she wants!

edst4
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edst4 06/29/07 - 06:37 am
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Not that I support Ms. Chase

Not that I support Ms. Chase on this matter. I did know her as well as my daughter did since she played softball at Harlem High. Sure Ms. Chase should of known right from wrong, so did the 16 year old. The whole story is not being told here either. From what I heard from other parents of the softball players. The girl in question was going over to the apt of Ms. Chase to see her. Ms Chase had to turn on her car alarm to scare the girl away. This is after all this went down. If that IS the case. The girl in question knew right from wrong also. Should MS. Chase be punished for what she did? I say yes. But not for 10 years 5 years yes. Ok let the attacks begin I am sure I am going to get nailed here.

B52
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B52 06/29/07 - 07:07 am
0
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What she did was wrong, no

What she did was wrong, no doubt. But, how many male coaches have had relationships with students and it gets swept under the rug. Just wondering how much of this is because she is gay? Should she be punished, yes, but 10 years is an extremely long time; I don't feel the punishment fits the crime.

aintryt
189
Points
aintryt 06/29/07 - 07:13 am
0
0
A coach in south richmond

A coach in south richmond county married one of his former students. Later he cheated on her with another student. I'm sure he's probably still there aren't cha blockhead?

Edward1968
624
Points
Edward1968 06/29/07 - 07:20 am
0
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Edamrauer must be joking. No

Edamrauer must be joking. No one is that ignorant. Chase is a pedophile obviously! She should serve the 10 years. Chase will have plenty of time to think over her perverted, child molesting acts.

austinind
0
Points
austinind 06/29/07 - 07:32 am
0
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I agree that Chase broke the

I agree that Chase broke the law but I also agree that 10 years is too harsh. Some people think she should get that because she is gay. Who are we to judge?

BarstoolDreamer
19
Points
BarstoolDreamer 06/29/07 - 07:42 am
0
0
stereotypes are such a time

stereotypes are such a time saver!

whitescorpion
2
Points
whitescorpion 06/29/07 - 07:53 am
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What hogwash. The girl

What hogwash. The girl consented. She wasn't her teacher. This "lunch / common area" crap is just that, crap. It's just an excuse to lock up this lady. Let the poor lesbian go.

aintryt
189
Points
aintryt 06/29/07 - 07:54 am
0
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His started his relationship

His started his relationship with her when she was still a student, married her after graduation, but hey - that was many moons ago and it wasn't as you say, my business.

KingJames
11
Points
KingJames 06/29/07 - 08:09 am
0
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Strange how no one comes to

Strange how no one comes to the defense of male teachers and coaches who are in the same situation. The fact of the matter is Chase is an adult and the victim in this case is a child. I don't care if the child pursued Chase or not, Chase should have known better than to have sex with her. Some lines just shouldn't be crossed. It doesn't matter that she is a lesbian. Sex with a minor is wrong. With all of the news about the mandatory 10 year sentence for child molestors, Chase should have been aware of the consequences. She just chose to ignore them. A responsible adult would not have allowed herself to be put in a position where a child could play a game of cat-and-mouse. If Chase was a man, everyone would be saying to lock him up and throw away the key. Let's keep this thing fair across the board for child molestors, and not start feeling sorry for some of them just because this time it's a woman.

Goaliemom1987
7
Points
Goaliemom1987 06/29/07 - 08:18 am
0
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Drug dealers and murders get

Drug dealers and murders get less time!!! I think she knows she made a mistake and from what I heard the "girl" in question was pursuing her...The girls parents are upset that their daughter is gay and they are going to punish anyone in the way!

KingJames
11
Points
KingJames 06/29/07 - 08:19 am
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The position of authority

The position of authority thing can go deeper than some may realize. No, Chase wasn't the girl's coach anymore. But, this is how it could have possibly played out...Suppose the coach continued this unduly familiar relationship with the girl and also had one with another teacher whose class the girl attended. The coach could have used influence over that teacher to persuade her to pass the girl even though she was failing the course. Worse than that, suppose both teachers began having sex with the girl. Or suppose the girl broke some other school rule and the coach was a witness. The girl, in this case would probably get off because you know the coach would lie to protect her teenage lover. These are just possible scenarios that could have come up if something like sex between a teacher and a student who doesn't take that teacher's class was allowed to continue. Think about it before you call the common area thing crap.

september 5th
1
Points
september 5th 06/29/07 - 08:21 am
0
0
hello!!!! has anyone been

hello!!!! has anyone been over to DAVIDSON'S FINE ARTS MAGNET SCHOOL lately?

B52
0
Points
B52 06/29/07 - 08:30 am
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King James, sorry, but I

King James, sorry, but I think you are going overboard! You can make up any scenarios you want about anyone, doesn't make them anything close to reality. Now you are trying to have the coach involved with a fellow teacher as well - what? Sorry I just don't get it.

happythoughts
25
Points
happythoughts 06/29/07 - 08:43 am
0
0
No!! what's going on over

No!! what's going on over there?

jaschild
9
Points
jaschild 06/29/07 - 08:46 am
0
0
dumb teacher - ethics laws

dumb teacher - ethics laws are cut and dry regarding students. she should get the max. anything less just tells would-be dirtbags that the state is starting to "lighten up" on teacher/student relationships.

Chuchi
2
Points
Chuchi 06/29/07 - 08:47 am
0
0
Regardless of who was

Regardless of who was pursuing whom, the Coach was the adult and a professional who knew the rules and broke them. A crime was committed here no matter who consented to what. Opinions don't matter much when the facts bear out that the law was broken. Teachers are grown-ups who are supposed to have a degree of maturity and self-control that prevents them from indulging in inappropriate relationships such as this one. Because of the 16-year-old's age she cannot be legally held responsible for her actions in this, and her moral culpability is less also. If the student pursued this coach, the coach should have reported it immediately to her superiors, documented everything and scheduled conferences with the girl's parents to nip this situation in the bud. Regardless of this coach's personal inclinations, there are many other consenting adults out there with whom she could have had a relationship. There was no need to indulge in any type of activity with someone who was underage. Now the coach is paying a large price for it, so anyone out there who is tempted in this way --- beware. Like this teacher, you might lose it all.

Reds
0
Points
Reds 06/29/07 - 08:51 am
0
0
10 years may be excessive,

10 years may be excessive, thats the problem with mandatory sentencing.

happythoughts
25
Points
happythoughts 06/29/07 - 08:59 am
0
0
Wrong is wrong and rules are

Wrong is wrong and rules are rules. The teacher made some bad choices and got caught. Now she has to face the consequence of her actions. Surely being a teacher she knew that it was likely this would happen. Like some men they think with their D---. What was she thinking with?

edamrauer
0
Points
edamrauer 06/29/07 - 08:59 am
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Listen, I'm reading all of

Listen, I'm reading all of these posts, obviously started by my own and it's so very mixed. The truth of the matter is this. Ms. Chase was no longer her teacher. Yes, jail time is inevitable HOWEVER 10 years WAY TOO LONG, I say, at time of sentencing, give this woman time served and let her continue her life. That young girl will go on with her life, go to college, continue living and will essentially not be affected, BECAUSE she pursued Ms. Chase, and because she CONSENTED!!! The legal age is 16 in Georgia. Excuse me but that makes you a consenting ADULT! I don't care what anyone says, call me ignorant, call me stupid, call me what you want...but I am a supporter of Ms. Chase. She made a MISTAKE. We've all made mistakes. Most we're not proud of. She has learned her lesson, I'm sure. Let's not crucify her. That's not our job. Whoever the nimrod was that said "give her the max" you must never have made a mistake in your life. Give Ms. Chase the break she deserves...time served. She's suffered enough. Ms. Chase is NOT a molester or a pedophile. Not in the slightest. She had consensual sex with an of age woman who was no longer her student. That's all it was.

CHIEF
2
Points
CHIEF 06/29/07 - 09:13 am
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The legal sentence does not

The legal sentence does not match the crime. However, she getting what males get everyday.

austinind
0
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austinind 06/29/07 - 09:17 am
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happythoughts, you are so

happythoughts, you are so right! the law, no matter how stupid or harsh some may think, was broken & she has to be punished under the law. Guess if some think it is too harsh, as I do, it may be time to lobby to change it. Don't know if that will actually happen but I shouldn't complain about the law if I don't try to do anything to change it, right?

PetsArePeopleToo
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PetsArePeopleToo 06/29/07 - 09:21 am
0
0
I personally feel that this

I personally feel that this sexual harrasment is common in our school systems between teachers & students. Students that have issues at home are easy targets for these persons that prey on their emotional state of mind . I feel that the students do not say anything about the advances because " Who will believe them", over an adult . I encourage parents to look for changes
in your child behavior and school work. There may be a reason
for the sudden "illness" or not feeling well enough to go to school. Please pay attention so your child will not carry that
all throughout their life into adulthood.

chameleon18
0
Points
chameleon18 06/29/07 - 09:22 am
0
0
Professionally, what Ms.

Professionally, what Ms. Chase did was not right. We all make mistakes, we all make bad decisions. BUT having bad judgement doesn't make us bad people. I don't consider Ms Chase a child molester or a pedophile. In society, when we hear those terms, I, speaking for myself thnk, "disgusting". Not in this case. Ms. Chase did not go out and fool around with a 7 year old. The girl in this situation knew what sex was. Again, I'm not going to agree with the decision Ms Chase made or didn't make. However, she's not "sick", or perverted. If she wasn't a teacher, this situation would've never made headlines. And there would never be a chance of her having to serve the next 10 years behind bars. I definitely do NOT agree with that punishment in this case. Ms Chase did not murder anyone, she's not a rapist, and she's not someone who has been put in this position before; but she's being made out to be exactly that. A 10 year prison term is definitely too much. The other girl in this situation is not a "victim". And I hope when all this is said and done, Ms. Chase is not either.

luckie
2
Points
luckie 06/29/07 - 09:37 am
0
0
Since the event happened on

Since the event happened on school property, if it had even been another student with an age of 17, the law would see it as not only sexual but Georgia can charge a 17 year old with contributing to the delinquency of a minor if they want to. All it takes is for the parent to press charges. Scenario, 17 year old male stays home, from school, 16 year old female sees that he is absent, calls his house and says I don't feel good, come pick me up and give me a ride home. 17 year old picks her up at school. Mom presses charges on him. Boy has contributing to the delinquency of a minor on his record. Georgia law!

luckie
2
Points
luckie 06/29/07 - 09:44 am
0
0
The military has rules too.

The military has rules too. Officers are not suppose to date enlisted. However, I have seen them married to each other. Permanent party are not to date trainees which sometimes encompasses an instructor and a student or a drill sergeant and student. It happens. When you get caught or if someone wants to pursue the violation, it can be punishable. Money talks and a good attorney helps.

KingJames
11
Points
KingJames 06/29/07 - 09:44 am
0
0
B52, those are some scenarios

B52, those are some scenarios of things that COULD happen if behavior such as this is permitted. They may seem far from reality, but so does a coach having sex with a student. In order to stay above suspicion, adults with authority over children need to be careful of the situations they allow themselves to be put in. None of the scenarios I mentioned happened in this case, but the truth of the matter is that they could have. Ms. Chase should have removed any possibility of having sex witht he child by simply not being alone with her and even notifying administrators and parents about the situation. She could have prevented the whole thing. I have been in situations where I was a supervisor of young adults. There were times when I had to speak to them one on one behind closed doors. Each time I did so, I always documented the conversation, had them sign the documentation, and occasionally brought in an impartial witness. I did all of that because I was in a position of authority and wanted to be above suspicion of any sexual impropriety. If Ms. Chase was really trying to avoid having sex with the girl, she would have done the same thing.

rj1960j10
14
Points
rj1960j10 06/29/07 - 09:50 am
0
0
so the 17 year old kid that

so the 17 year old kid that had consensual oral sex with a girl and sits in jail right now. He should not be released because of the girls age. he should stay in jail for his time just like everyone else. The law is the law

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