Friday, 07 February 2020 14:31

Preacher Sentenced in 1983 Child Rape Case

Feb. 7, 2020 – A 68-year-old preacher convicted of raping a 12-year-old girl in a series of assaults that occurred in 1983 was sentenced Friday to 18 years in prison without the possibility of parole, said Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Amy Weirich.
Defendant Rufus Stevens Jr. was convicted by a Criminal Court jury in December of aggravated rape, a crime which then was a Class X felony with no statute of limitations. It now would be classified as rape of a child.
The defendant was sentenced by Court Judge W. Mark Ward.
This was the oldest rape case prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office. The decades-old case did not involve discarded rape kits, but rather recently recorded telephone conversations in which Stevens admitted what he had done.
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 age 48, the victim spoke on the phone with Stevens, who had remarried and was living in Bakersfield, Calif., studying to be a preacher. 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.
The case was handled by Asst. Dist. Atty. Gavin Smith of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Unit prosecutes cases of child sexual abuse and severe physical abuse of child victims; rape and aggravated rape of adult victims, and abuse of elderly and vulnerable adults.