MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Friday, a 68-year-old preacher convicted of raping a 12-year-old girl in 1983 was sentenced to 18 years in prison without the possibility of parole, according to the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office.
In December, a Criminal Court jury convicted Rufus Stevens Jr. of aggravated rape, a crime which was a Class X felony with no statute of limitations at the time. Now, it would be classified as rape of a child.
According to trial testimony, Stevens sexually assaulted the young victim on several occasions in 1983, usually in his car in Overton Park. On one occasion, the victim’s grandmother caught Stevens molesting her on a sofa and yelled at him to get off of the girl. When the girl told her mother about the incidents, she was not believed and was beaten with a belt or cord for lying.
In 2012, at 48 years old, the victim spoke on the phone with Stevens, who had remarried and was living in Bakersfield, California, studying to be a preacher. Investigators say the victim told his new wife what he had done to her as a child and to be careful about having her grandchildren around Stevens. He also made an admission to the victim’s mother, who died in 2013.
Stevens eventually admitted to his new wife that he had sexually assaulted the victim when she was a child and repeated the admission to the victim herself in a recorded telephone conversation last year after she had reported the assaults to police.