Convicted sex offender Michael Roy Salazar blames victims
By J.J. Kindred | (email@example.com)
KNOXVILLE — A former Maryville youth minister, serving a prison sentence for statutory rape and sexual battery involving five girls in his youth group, blamed the victims for his actions during a parole hearing Wednesday at the Knox County Department of Corrections.
It was recommended by hearing officer Jane Joyce that Michael Roy Salazar, 40, be denied parole for six years, which is the maximum amount of time for denial. He is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence in the Morgan County Correctional Complex.
On Sept. 17, 2010, Salazar pleaded guilty to 10 counts each of unlawful sexual contact and statutory rape involving the girls who were part of his youth group. He has served about 61 months of the sentence, according to Blount County District Attorney Mike Flynn, who attended the hearing.
Salazar was present via satellite from the Morgan County prison.
Salazar’s wife, Laura Lee Click Salazar, served as a co-youth leader along with her husband at their church, Lord’s Disciples Ministries of Whosover Will, 2002 Old Knoxville Pike. They were arrested in August 2008 after one of the church’s ministers, accompanied by three of the victims and their parents, came to law enforcement over alleged sexual misconduct that began while the girls attended the church.
Laura Salazar pleaded guilty in January to one count of conspiracy to commit statutory rape and sexual battery by an authority figure, and several counts of statutory rape and sexual battery by an authority figure.
She was sentenced to 12 years, but thanks to a plea agreement with Judge David Duggan, she is serving one year incarcerated and the rest of the sentence in community corrections. However, she must spend the rest of her life listed on the sex offender registry.
Flynn told The Daily Times Wednesday that he recommended that Salazar remain incarcerated, stating that if he were released, he would certainly be at risk to repeat his crimes.
“I said I felt like he was a predator,” Flynn said. “The victims are still recovering from his actions, and he’s still blaming them. (Joyce) asked him his version of the offense. He said he couldn’t remember it, and a lot was surreal. A youth minister at church took advantage of young women, and when he was asked why he did it, he said he didn’t know. He said the affection was going both ways. (Joyce) had a discussion of blaming the victims, and she said, ‘You’re the adult. They were all well under age.’”
Flynn said as far as a typical parole hearing, the hearing officer will go over the prisoner’s history, and during Wednesday’s hearing Salazar’s current charges were acknowledged, as well as a juvenile record for breaking and entering, a misdemeanor as an adult, and receiving his GED in 2011 in Morgan County. However, he was written up for forbidden possession and use of tobacco products.
“His actions in prison not following the rules are as strong an indication that he can’t follow the law and do what he’s supposed to do,” Flynn said.
Two of the victims and three members of their families spoke during the hearing, Flynn said.
The recommendation for denial will go before the board. Three other officers have to vote in agreement that parole be denied, and it takes about 10 days for other members to vote to deny or approve the parole.