A motivational assembly at a Washington state high school is mired in controversy after a registered sex offender was featured at the event, speaking to children and even signing photos for them.
Melissa Salsbury turned herself in to Benton County officials on Wednesday after the Tuesday assembly at Kiona-Benton City High School, the Tri-City Herald reports.
The event was organized by Money Over Misery, an entertainment company comprised of models and musicians, which visited the school to promote self-worth and awareness against peer pressure and bullying.
One of the speakers was 23-year-old Salsbury, who goes by her model name, Mia Rose. Rose is also a registered sex offender, convicted of running a prostitution ring in 2011.
With the help of her husband, Salsbury coerced multiple underage girls into having sex with men for money.
Kennewick police learned of the reputed prostitution ring that drew in men through an internet ad after one of the 17-year-old girls went to her school resource officer "under emotional duress," said Detective Rick Runge.
"The girls were definitely manipulated and coerced and extorted with threats made to tell their parents or boyfriends," said Runge, who described accused organizer Melissa Marie Salsbury's actions as "exploiting minors for prostitution."
The exploited children told Runge that they feared being kidnapped and sold into sex slavery. The convicted model was sentenced to almost a year in jail.
— Mia Rose (@modelmiarose) September 21, 2014
Salsbury is a level one sex offender who is still under the Department of Corrections supervision and is banned from school grounds.
Principal Clay Henry told NBC Right Now he was unaware that "Mia Rose" was actually Salsbury.
"After the fact, it was brought to the attention of District Administration by law enforcement that the associate was a registered sex offender," the school said in a statement sent to parents.
Money Over Misery also expressed their condolences in an online video, saying they were also unaware.
"Again we deeply apologize for the event that has happened, we do not agree with this action or stand behind it, as we did not know about it prior," the group wrote.
In a photo posted to Salsbury's Instagram, the woman can be seen standing with a group of children, captioned with the hashtag "ROLEMODEL."