Tennessee preacher found guilty of raping child in 1983

Published 8:39 am Monday, December 16, 2019

MEMPHIS (AP) — A Tennessee preacher has been convicted of the aggravated rape of a 12-year-old in 1983.

The conviction was helped by Rufus Steven Jr. admitting in a recorded 2018 phone call with his victim that he had repeatedly raped and assaulted her, news outlets report, citing according to a Shelby County District Attorney statement.

Stevens would usually assault the girl in his car at a park, the statement says, but he was once caught molesting her at her grandmother’s house. Though the grandmother witnessed the attack and yelled at him to get off the girl, the statement says the girl’s mother didn’t believe her daughter and beat her for lying. He later confessed to the girl’s mother, who died in 2013, according to the statement.

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A remarried Stevens spoke on the phone with the victim in 2012 when he was living in Bakersfield and studying to be a preacher, the statement says. The victim told Steven’s wife the abuse inflicted by her new husband and warned her to keep a careful eye on any grandchildren, it says. Later, he confided in his wife about the abuse and admitted it to the victim in the phone call that was recorded last year after the abuse was reported to police, it says.

Stevens faces up to life in prison at his Feb. 7 sentencing in what the district attorney’s office says is the oldest rape case it’s ever prosecuted.