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Rapist Sentenced to 65-Year Term for Assaults on 17 Victims

July 26, 1986|TERRY PRISTIN | Times Staff Writer

Unswayed by expressions of remorse from a 28-year-old man whom police dubbed the "security building rapist," a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Friday sentenced him to 65 years in prison, calling him "a walking time bomb" who should never be returned to society.

"These are not ordinary rapes," Judge Robert T. Altman said in sentencing Ronald Nelson Melvin. "They're rapes of children, they are serial rapes, they are rapes under the very cruelest of circumstances."

Melvin pleaded guilty April 21 to 29 counts, including rape, kidnaping and child molestation, involving 17 victims who lived in mid-Wilshire-area apartment buildings with buzzer systems. The victims were between 10 and 17 years old, except for one 8-year-old and two women in their 20s.

According to testimony at Friday's sentencing hearing, Melvin apparently led a double life for 19 months, beginning in August, 1984.

Stalking Victims

Melvin the rapist was stalking young victims, slipping into their apartment buildings behind them and forcing them, usually at knifepoint, into secluded areas so he could assault them.

The other Melvin was an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous, who had a kicked a drinking habit that began when he was 12 and went out of his way to help both friends and strangers benefit from his experience. This Melvin was trained as a plumber's assistant.

"I've always found him to be a very helpful and good person," said a 30-year-old woman who met Melvin through AA three years ago. ". . . I don't know this person that you're talking about."

Taking the stand, the soft-spoken Melvin told Altman he was eager to get help.

"I feel real bad about what I've done," he said. "While I was doing it, I felt bad about it."

Asserting that he had been "living in a nightmare" because of his compulsive sexual urges, Melvin said, "Given a chance I can be helped . . . because I want to be."

The judge said he felt sympathy for anyone with a background like Melvin's. According to the probation report, Melvin was raised mainly by a grandmother. His parents were alcoholics who died of liver disease, and he himself was sexually abused by older boys until he was old enough to fight them off.

Altman, however, said he was troubled by the fact that Melvin had not sought treatment before his arrest. Moreover, the judge said, in taking issue with a psychologist and a psychiatrist who testified for the defense, "I'm not at all satisfied that he can be changed by any type of treatment."

Responding angrily to Melvin's testimony, Deputy Dist. Atty. Keith Schwartz, who prosecuted the case, repeatedly called him a "monster" who terrorized an entire community for nearly two years and was "not entitled to one ounce of sympathy."

Schwartz pointed out that the rapes were committed while Melvin was on parole after serving six years in a New York prison for manslaughter.

The prosecutor said Melvin might be eligible for release in 32 1/2 years.

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