Ex-teacher gets 10 years in jail

  • Follow Metro

A former Harlem High School teacher who had sex with a student was sentenced to 10 years in prison Friday.

Chase  File/Staff
File/Staff
Chase

Melissa L. Chase, 29, stood trembling before the judge, dressed in a jail uniform of bright orange cotton smock and pants, her hands and feet chained.

She blamed no one but herself, apologizing profusely to her victim, family, friends, supporters and former peers - those hurt because of her selfishness, she said. As her supporters in Richmond County Superior Court cried, Ms. Chase apologized for the embarrassment she had caused. She spoke of her shame in seeing her parents in tears begging a judge for mercy. She asked for none for herself.

In a Richmond County bench trial in June, Superior Court Judge Carl C. Brown Jr. found Ms. Chase guilty of sexual assault against a student enrolled in school. She had a single sexual encounter last year with a 16-year-old girl. The teenager had been one of her students the previous year.

What she did was wrong, her supporters said in court Friday, but it shouldn't cancel out all of the good she has done.

Her minister spoke of her remorse; a former colleague spoke of how much Ms. Chase had given and how she has lost a profession she loved; and the mother of a former student told of how much Ms. Chase had done for students to help them bring out the best in themselves.

"Ms. Chase is an absolute outstanding individual," said her attorney Greg Leopard.

Assistant District Attorney Adam King said it wasn't a matter of trying to say Ms. Chase was a bad person, but she committed a crime, regardless of what one might think of the law.

"Our hands are tied by the law," he said.

Judge Brown agreed. He said state legislators have taken a strong stand against sexual offenses, especially those involving children and those committed against people in a position ripe for coercion, such as schools.

He sentenced Ms. Chase to 10 years in prison - the mandatory minimum sentence - followed by five years of probation.

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

Comments (67) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
ImThatGuy
0
Points
ImThatGuy 08/04/07 - 01:55 pm
0
0
This is a mess... I thought

This is a mess... I thought Harlem which is part of Columbia County, has deep roots in the religious aspect of society and if you look above you can clearly see people defending this woman who's sexuality is not the norm. Sure wrong is wrong and 10 years may be a little harsh but if it was the same situation in Richmond county, what would the out come be?

TakeAstand
13
Points
TakeAstand 08/04/07 - 01:56 pm
0
0
I know it is rose and I

I know it is rose and I think driving drunk after your first offense should be too and I know of armed robbers and forgers who served less time than she is for felony convictions. Not to say she should not be punished, I'm just saying the prioritys of who they want to make examples out of is messed up. She knew the danger of he penalty and did it anyway so its her bed she has to lay in it, even though I do think some close age cases get caught up in the law wrong. I applaud the stiff penalties but am very frustrated to not see it in use on those who deserve it who put innocent peoples lives in danger everyday in addition to the crimes sexual in nature. Those seem to be the only ones they are really tough on, which is good, but I really think they need to put that effort into other sentences too. Thats what the only the shame about it really is.

Rose
17
Points
Rose 08/04/07 - 02:07 pm
0
0
TakeAstand,I agree with you.

TakeAstand,I agree with you. Other crimes such as DUI should have harsher sentences. Then as soon as anyone is given a harsh sentence, people come out of the woodworks taking up for the criminals.

kelleyholland
0
Points
kelleyholland 08/04/07 - 02:30 pm
0
0
Chase made a bad decision, it

Chase made a bad decision, it was not 10years worth of bad decision. Had Chase not been in the profession that she was in, I'm guessing she would not be where she is. My step father molested my daughter she was 9 years old. He got 9 months in a boot camp jail......you tell me where the justice is here?

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 08/04/07 - 03:11 pm
0
0
Good job Carl C. Brown Jr.,
Unpublished

Good job Carl C. Brown Jr., one of the best in the business. Chase knew what she was getting into when this started. She understood the consequences and she decided on a 10 year sentence almost a year ago. Sure, there are problems with the justice system but 10 years sounds like it will deter any others who may be out there thinking of doing the same thing.

GET REAL1
1
Points
GET REAL1 08/04/07 - 03:57 pm
0
0
my prayers go out to you

my prayers go out to you kellyholland. may your step father rot! i don't think that chase deserves this, the family prosecuted because the daughter was gay.

TakeAstand
13
Points
TakeAstand 08/04/07 - 03:58 pm
0
0
They so do rose and it gets

They so do rose and it gets me fumin lol I am so sorry to hear about that kelley, that is horrible, these are the situations I speak of, what he did was definately worthy of a 10 year sentence and more. What a lowlife!! You guys were failed by the system and I pray he does not have more victims. I pray for the both of you for her to recover normal happy and healthy!! Best of luck!!

iletuknow
8
Points
iletuknow 08/04/07 - 05:02 pm
0
0
Dang,wish I had a PE teacher

Dang,wish I had a PE teacher to have sex with in high school.

cris5374
0
Points
cris5374 08/04/07 - 06:24 pm
0
0
hey jack, you gotta be

hey jack, you gotta be kidding me! well i hope your granddaughter doesnt live in the free world because other than jail thats where lesbians live, you ar the type of person that would set a child off into the world wearing rose colored glasses, you need to wake up 4real !!!!!!!!!! what you INSTILL in your child ,cant no silk tongued adult make them 4get

TruthJusticeFaithHope
233
Points
TruthJusticeFaithHope 08/04/07 - 06:44 pm
0
0
Yes, 10 years is severe, the

Yes, 10 years is severe, the victim's family even likes this woman, and, although it was not written about, the girl may not have been traumatized like many victims of child sexual abuse.
Yet, she broke a law, and this law is tough. Sadly, a few years ago, a perpetrator of sexual abuse against a child might have gotten 5 years, or only probation... Things have changed, and personally I am glad... People who engage in sexual activity with an adolescent, as this woman did, are breaking the law... even if the adolescent is going along with it. Last year over 400 reports of suspected child sexual abuse were made to our law enforcement and child protective services athorities. Is that 1/10 or 1/4 of the actual cases ? I don't know. But, I do know it happens often, and the victims are generally not the willing adolescents, but scared, vulnerable, and hopeless children from birth to twelve years of age. Child Sexual Abuse is an epidemic.
All adults must attempt to look out for the children in their lives, and neighborhoods... For some, that is the only hope they have.
Be safe out there.

magic
0
Points
magic 08/04/07 - 07:06 pm
0
0
She messed up when she asked

She messed up when she asked for a bench trial. If it would have been a jury trial;she would have gotten off. I'm not mad at her. She is no criminal. The girl she slept with wasn't even in her class at the time. They just continued a relationship that led to sex. It happened one time. My opinion is that the "so called victim" couldn't stand to see her everyday and concocted this story.

ljhay
0
Points
ljhay 08/04/07 - 11:03 pm
0
0
This is a sadistic event but

This is a sadistic event but not a rare one. When I attended high school in South Augusta over 20 years ago, this type of behavior was tolerated/celebrated. At my high school a coach not only dated his softball players, he eventually married one/two. Parents be aware and pray for protection for your children.

Rose
17
Points
Rose 08/05/07 - 11:12 am
0
0
If the ones here think it is

If the ones here think it is ok for a 29 yr old to have sex with a 16 yr old, then why are so many people on the sex offenders list? This case was a felony. Some on the sex offenders list were not felons

Rose
17
Points
Rose 08/05/07 - 11:14 am
0
0
I think the only reason some

I think the only reason some want her to have a light sentence or no sentence is because she is gay. That is bull.

blondie
0
Points
blondie 08/05/07 - 11:52 am
0
0
My father was killed by a

My father was killed by a drunk driver (at least 4 DUI"S)in Col. Cty. and she only got two years.

Forgiven1
0
Points
Forgiven1 08/05/07 - 02:30 pm
0
0
Our Father which art in

Our Father which art in heaven, Hollowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, they will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kindom and the power and the glory for ever.

southerngal
0
Points
southerngal 08/05/07 - 03:43 pm
0
0
No one wants Chase to have

No one wants Chase to have little or no jail time because she is gay. I am offended that you would even think that.

Rose
17
Points
Rose 08/05/07 - 03:50 pm
0
0
If a 29 yr old man had sex

If a 29 yr old man had sex with a 16 yr old, he would be on America's Most Wanted.

evns05
0
Points
evns05 08/05/07 - 04:39 pm
0
0
Even though what she did was

Even though what she did was wrong and I am not trying to defend her, this is a long and hard sentence. there is no excuse for molesting children because there are too many street adults that would have jumped and the chance. no one is defending this lady, but this world is so messed up know to the point mothers are doing the samething as she did. No one really knows what happened but the two of them and who is it to say that the 16 year old had probably been doing this for a while. To be honest, it could have been the other way around and Chase may have been the victim. Some teenagers today are sleeping around with 30 and 40 year old men and women and the parents are letting it happen. It is truly a shame and a disgrace to this world.

banoodle
0
Points
banoodle 08/05/07 - 05:20 pm
0
0
First of all I would like to

First of all I would like to say to Melissa & family that you are all in my prayers for this terrible injustice. Second of all for all Melissa's family & friends & anyone who sees this as an injustice I would suggest: CONTACT EVERYONE YOU CAN FROM STATE AUTHORITIES TO MEDIA TO GAY RIGHTS ACTIVISTS. Expose this injustice in hopes that someday it could be remedied or even changed in the future. The law provided for a lesser sentence but the judge denied her that based on the transportation aspect of the law. I am glad that all the people that have posted negative comments are so perfect. I am sure your closets are all clean & because the law does not single out your mistakes to this degree you must feel you are better than Melissa. She made a mistake as do so many Americans today. How full would our jails be if everyone was prosecuted to the fullest extent and be made examples of. Of course that might not be a bad thing for some as many drunk drivers, murderers, true "child" molesters, drug dealers, etc. should be in jail for longer periods of time. She admitted her mistake & stood up & took responsibility for her actions & paid the price dearly. Georgia committed the true crime here

TakeAstand
13
Points
TakeAstand 08/05/07 - 05:46 pm
0
0
I am so sorry blondie.... If

I am so sorry blondie.... If I was you I would go after the the judges and whoever else was connected with letting this repeat offender keep threatening innocent lives until he eventually killed someone, I'd also write a letter to his lawyer that helped him get off with slaps on the wrist and ask him how he sleeps at night. Some of these lawyers pride themselves on getting drunk drivers slaps on the wrist. They are all scum to me.. each and everyone who does not punish dui offenders more harshly and if you ever want to get a movement going I'm bhind you 100%. Like I said before a drunk driver almost killed a friend of ours and put our business and livelyhood in jeopardy and I know of so many with tons of dui's. They make me sick.

bone
23
Points
bone 08/05/07 - 05:47 pm
0
0
didn't think about the gay

didn't think about the gay angle: surely she should get a free pass since she engaged in consensual gay sex. to punish her would be a hate crime, right? wow, the tortured logic i try to weave looks so stupid in print...

TakeAstand
13
Points
TakeAstand 08/05/07 - 05:53 pm
0
0
I agree banoodle there are

I agree banoodle there are alot more serious crimes they let go way to lightly. Their prioritys are very messed up when it comes to these laws!!

Rose
17
Points
Rose 08/05/07 - 07:53 pm
0
0
He sentenced Ms. Chase to 10

He sentenced Ms. Chase to 10 years in prison - the mandatory minimum sentence. She got the minimum sentence. The judge could not give her a lower sentence.

taegrece
0
Points
taegrece 08/05/07 - 10:22 pm
0
0
She will be just find, she

She will be just find, she might even like it there plenty of ladies!!! You do the crime you do the time!!!!

intheknow
16
Points
intheknow 08/06/07 - 12:14 am
0
0
She was treated the same as

She was treated the same as the Teenager who engaged in oral. The law is the law. I just cannot understand how some are trying to blame her sentence, as being Anti-Gay.

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 08/06/07 - 09:50 am
0
0
What is the true age of

What is the true age of consent in Georgia? If the girl is of the age of consent then what crime was done in an off campus setting if the act was ok with both parties. I'm not saying I agree but if the age of consent is 16 for men and women then no crime was committed. I assume the age of consent must be 17-18. I do not know..

shrty001423
0
Points
shrty001423 08/06/07 - 09:54 am
0
0
again i find myself reading

again i find myself reading these ignorant comments... none of you on here know a second of what is really going on with this case. none of you. unless you've been here from the start, know all there is to know THAT IS NOT BEING PUBLISHED IN THE NEWSPAPERS, you will never be able to make an accurate statement of what you do or do not think should happen. i only pray for those that are "throwing the book" at chase, that you never have to be in a situation where you made a mistake, a costly one, and have to ask someone else for mercy and forgiveness. i hope that your family never inds themself in a situation where compassion is needed, not just the law, or what's on paper, but what is right and what is just....

good luck to you guys, and this message board. hope that everyone is living well through other peoples pain and heartache...

shrty001423
0
Points
shrty001423 08/06/07 - 12:07 pm
0
0
denali123 the age of consent

denali123 the age of consent is 16 here in ga.... it wasnt a matter of consent though, it was a matter of her being a teacher, in an authoritative position over someone else.

ripjones
2
Points
ripjones 08/06/07 - 02:55 pm
0
0
Tae/grece - You are a sick

Tae/grece - You are a sick individual. That was not a funny statement. Yes, she got the same sentence that Genarlow Wilson received. Both have been given sentences that are too long. However, the problem with making laws is that you have to make ones that will fit the majority of the time. There will always be some that don't fit the letter of the crime.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Smith case referred to Attorney General's office

A state probe into allegations former Augusta commissioner Donnie Smith moonlighted for a hospitality company while drawing his Georgia State Patrol salary will be reviewed by the state attorney ...
Search Augusta jobs