MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A preacher has been convicted in the oldest rape case prosecuted by the current Shelby County District Attorney’s Office.
Rufus Stevens Jr., 68, has been convicted of aggravated rape involving a 12-year-old girl during a series of assaults in 1983.
The District Attorney’s Office said Stevens was prosecuted under the law at the time of the crime, meaning he faces 20 years to life in prison for what was then a Class X felony.
Authorities said there was no statute of limitations for the aggravated rape, which would be classified as the rape of a child.
This case did not involve rape kits, but instead recorded telephone conversations which Stevens admitted what he had done.
Testimony revealed Stevens sexually assaulted the young girl multiple times in 1983. Once in his car in Overton Park, and the victim’s grandmother caught Stevens molesting the child on her sofa. The grandmother yelled at him to get off the girl.
Investigators said when the young girl tried to tell her mother about the incidents, her mother did not believe her and beat her with a belt or cord for lying.
The 48-year-old victim spoke on the phone with Stevens in 2012. He was remarried and studying to be a preacher in Bakersfield, California.
Court documents revealed the victim told his new wife what Stevens had done to her as a child, and told her to be careful with him around her grandchildren.
Officials said he also admitted to the crime to the victim’s mother who died in 2013.
Eventually, Stevens also admitted to his wife that he sexually assaulted the victim as a child. The wife repeated Stevens admitting to the crimes on a recorded phone conversation in 2018. She also reported the assaults to the police.
He’s being held in the Shelby County Jail and will be sentenced Feb. 7.
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