March 16, 2013

Salyer sentenced to life in prison

Rachel Brown

— A former Dalton State College professor was sentenced to life in prison Friday morning after a jury found him guilty Thursday of sex crimes against three children, including an 8-year-old relative.

Judge Cindy Morris sentenced Monte Gale Salyer, of Rocky Face, in Whitfield County Superior Court. A jury deliberated less than an hour Thursday afternoon before finding him guilty on all counts.

Salyer, 59, was convicted of child molestation with the 8-year-old, and of child molestation, two counts of aggravated child molestation, one count of rape and one count of statutory rape against a now-17-year-old girl he met at a Ringgold church. He was convicted of rape and two counts of child molestation against a now-21-year-old woman he met through the same church.

Morris sentenced Salyer to life in prison on several of the charges and 20 years in prison on others. District Attorney Bert Poston said the “practical effect” of the sentence is still 30 years in prison before Salyer could become eligible for parole.

By then, he would be 89.

“Cases like this illustrate that the powers of the court are finite and in many ways inadequate,” Morris said as several of the victims’ family members gathered in the courtroom to witness the fate of the man they used to call a close relative and friend. “Nothing this court does today can erase the pain (the victims) carry or mend the broken hearts of their loved ones.”

Salyer declined to make a statement before sentencing. Defense attorney Jim Meaney said neither he nor his client have decided if they will appeal, but he has 30 days to notify the courts if he plans to do so.

Morris issued the sentence after reading impact statements from the victims and listening to their parents and step-parents testify about how Salyer’s actions ripped apart their lives and damaged their relationships. Georgia law provides for up to life in prison on the rape charges and for lesser sentences on the other counts.

Several of the family members who gave impact statements said they are extremely hurt, but they hope Salyer changes his heart in prison and that God forgives him. One victim’s mother said she hopes God forgives him too, if he changes, but she doesn’t think she can, especially after Salyer entered a not guilty plea.

“We had to move to the other side of the country to give herself and ourselves some kind of peace. I don’t think that will ever come back fully,” she said. “...For us, I don’t believe there will ever truly be forgiveness, because he told my daughter by his telling of events that she lied — and she didn’t.”