(Editor’s note: This story contains graphic information that readers could find objectionable.)
A former Dalton State College professor was stripped of his personal effects and led away in handcuffs Thursday afternoon after a jury which deliberated for less than an hour found him guilty of sex acts with a child relative and two young girls he befriended at church.
This was after the defendant, Rocky Face resident Monte Gale Salyer, now 59, admitted during a law enforcement interview played for the jury that he was sexually attracted to the then-8-year-old relative he was charged with molesting, that he had difficulty controlling his sexual desires toward her, and that he had placed his hands on her private area. The girl testified earlier in the week about the molestation as did a now-17-year-old victim and a now-21-year-old victim.
Amanda Salyer, one of the victims’ family members, said the verdict is a relief.
“This has lifted a weight off our shoulders,” she said. “We can start the process of healing. This was truly bittersweet for all of us. He ripped apart our life, but we will start to rebuild now.”
The jury of nine women and three men in Judge Cindy Morris’ courtroom in Whitfield County Superior Court found Salyer guilty of child molestation against the 8-year-old. They also found him guilty of three counts of child molestation, two counts of aggravated child molestation, one count of rape and one count of statutory rape on the 17-year-old. A charge concerning the 21-year-old was dismissed after prosecutors asked to throw it out, but the jury did find Salyer guilty of rape and two counts of child molestation against her.
Monte Salyer is scheduled for a sentencing hearing today at 10 a.m. He faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole for at least 30 years.
District Attorney Bert Poston said the evidence in the case was “substantial, including the defendant’s recorded admission to Det. Chris Guay of the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office that he had touched the youngest victim inappropriately.”
“Regardless of how strong a case we may have, it is always difficult for victims in cases like this to come into the court and testify about events in their life, which while not in any way their fault, are nevertheless terribly personal and embarrassing,” Poston said. “This is especially true of child victims, and we applaud their courage for coming forward and facing the man who did this to them.”
Defense attorney Jim Meaney declined to comment immediately after the verdict Thursday afternoon, saying he might have something to add later.
Each of the three victims gave detailed testimony about the abuse during the trial that began on Monday with testimony concluding late Thursday morning. The jury also heard from a forensic interviewer, a nurse who examined the 8-year-old, several law enforcement officers, Salyer’s wife and several of the victims’ family members. No witnesses were called to testify for the defense, and Salyer declined to take the stand himself — a constitutional right which Morris reminded jury members was not to be held against him.