Updated August 19, 2022 - 7:03 pm
A man indicted in 2018 and accused of raping at least four high school classmates was sentenced on Thursday to one year in jail.
Maysen Melton was 16 when he was indicted on two dozen felony counts, including charges of sexual assault, kidnapping and battery with intent to commit sexual assault. Court records show that he pleaded guilty in March, more than four years after he was indicted, to two felony counts of attempted sexual assault.
After a year in the Clark County Detention Center, Melton will be placed on five years probation with electronic monitoring, District Judge Tara Clark Newberry said Thursday. If he violates any terms of his probation, Melton would have to serve between 16 and 40 years in prison.
Clark Newberry said she had to sentence him to the jail time with probation, instead of prison, because the guilty plea had been reached through a settlement conference.
If she didn’t accept the plea, the case would have gone to trial.
“Under the totality of the circumstances and taking into consideration the victims and solely the victims, I’m going to go along with the guilty plea agreement,” the judge said.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacob Villani said the majority of the victims did not want to go through a trial.
‘Favorable’ plea bargain
Melton, who is now 21, did not give a statement during the sentencing hearing. His attorney, Gabriel Grasso, said Melton had reached a “very favorable plea agreement” through the settlement conference.
“If he violates probation, he’s looking at a lengthy prison sentence,” Grasso said after the hearing. “But if he does turn his life around and become a productive member of society, then he’ll be able to avoid a prison sentence.”
Melton was charged in the adult court system in connection with the alleged attacks that occurred between 2016 and 2017 while he was a student at Shadow Ridge High School. Prosecutors have said that allegations of Melton’s sexual deviancy started when he was 9 years old.
Lawyers for Melton have said that he suffered sexual abuse at the hands of an older woman before he was disciplined in 2011 at Bracken Elementary School for sexually harassing another student. He was later disciplined for sexual deviancy at three separate middle schools, court documents state.
In 2018, six teens testified to a grand jury that Melton either forced sex on them or blackmailed them for nude images, according to court transcripts.
Four of the girls said they were raped, and at least two attacks allegedly occurred on school grounds. One girl testified that Melton blackmailed her for nude photographs, and another teen said he had threatened to post nude pictures of her on social media unless she had sex with him.
As a condition of probation, Clark Newberry ordered Melton to have no social media accounts and said he is not allowed to send or receive nude images. She also ordered him to undergo mental health treatment and said he cannot have any contact with the victims or the victims’ families.
Melton also will be required to register as a sex offender with lifetime supervision.
“Do you understand?” Clark Newberry asked the defendant on Thursday. “You cannot be anywhere with children.”
“I completely understand,” Melton said.
Melton was released from custody in December after posting bond on a $500,000 bail. He was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs following his sentencing on Thursday.
One of the victims testified during the hearing and said that after Melton sexually assaulted her, she “shut the world out” and struggled with suicidal thoughts.
“Five years ago, Maysen took something from me that I can never get back,” she said. “After sexually assaulting and blackmailing me, he took my dignity and various parts away from me.”
In November 2019, the Clark County School Board approved a $100,000 settlement in a lawsuit filed by one of the victims. The suit, which named Melton, his parents and the school district as defendants, claimed the district put students at risk by allowing Melton to stay in school despite a record of disciplinary action for sexual harassment.
Melton was a student at Palo Verde High School when he was arrested at home in January 2018.
Contact Katelyn Newberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.