Mr Mayes, who declined to comment for this article, was charged with one count of criminal sexual misconduct with a minor, although his lawyer told the court that the instructor had “strong arguments in favor of the innocence”. The case was later dropped, with prosecutors saying there was insufficient evidence to proceed with the case.
The school district, on the other hand, ultimately avoided a lawsuit by agreeing to pay around half a million dollars to three students who said Mr. Mayes had acted improperly.
Obedience comes first
In JROTC classrooms, instructors aren’t just teachers. They are senior officers and students learn to follow the chain of command.
“Obedience is the first lesson every soldier must learn,” says one of the program manuals.
Abuse survivors said the power dynamics in the program made it harder to resist sexual assault.
One of them, Jordan Leloup, came from a troubled childhood of poverty and drugs in Tennessee and no longer had a relationship with his parents. She said she yearned for something resembling “family”.
When JROTC instructor Michael Bass approached her one day during the 2013-2014 school year to join the Hendersonville High School program, she said, he had a sales pitch. attractive. “We’re like family,” he told her.
After she arrived, Mr Bass, who was 44, invited her to dinner at his home, where she was socializing with his wife and children. Then one night, she said, she arrived to find herself alone with Mr. Bass, who had set two place settings, with wine. He then took her to an upstairs room, where the first sexual assault took place. She was 17 years old.
After that, she said, Mr. Bass would tell her almost every day where to meet him privately — sometimes in a storage room at school or in an office, where he would lock a metal door. When she started to express her reluctance, she said, he pressured her.
“Every time he told me to be ready or to meet him somewhere, I had to be there,” she said. “If I didn’t, there would be consequences.”
One evening, when she threatened to tell the police about their relationship, Mr Bass insinuated that his time in the army had given him the skills that would allow him to kill her without anyone knowing.
Ms Leloup eventually turned herself in to police, who charged Mr Bass, citing a taped conversation in which he admitted to having sex. He pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated rape in 2019 and was sentenced to four years in prison.