A 28-year-old Los Angeles man, whom police dubbed the “security building rapist,” pleaded guilty Monday to 29 felony counts involving 17 victims in the mid-Wilshire area, most of whom were sexually assaulted as they arrived home from school.
Under the plea arrangement in Los Angeles Municipal Court, the prosecution agreed that Ronald Nelson Melvin Jr. would not be sentenced to more than 65 years, making him eligible for parole in 32 1/2 years.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Keith Schwartz said Melvin could have faced 120 years had he been convicted in a jury trial. Melvin’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Charles Elliott, said the maximum sentence could have been as long as 180 years.
Schwartz said outside the courtroom that he was certain Melvin would be imprisoned for a long time, without the need for “further damaging and destroying any young girls’ lives” through additional court proceedings.
By the time Melvin is released from prison, the prosecutor declared, “he will be in no condition to do this to anybody else.”
Melvin, who was paroled three years ago in New York after serving seven years on a manslaughter conviction, repeatedly answered “yes, sir” in a soft voice as Schwartz asked him one by one if he had committed each of the offenses, which date to August, 1984.
In most cases, police reports show, Melvin followed his victims home from school, slipped into the building behind them when they unlocked the front door and forced them at knifepoint to go with him to a secluded area so he could rape them.
All the victims were between 10 and 17 years old, except for one 8-year-old girl and two women in their 20s. Several were students at Virgil Junior High School at 152 N. Vermont Ave. and were followed as they walked home down 3rd Street.
One 11-year-old who was able to fend off Melvin told police her assailant asked her, “Do you want to be my woman now?"--language similar to what other victims had reported.
Schwartz said parents of the girls told investigators of the “tremendous psychological upheaval” their daughters had experienced and asked him to spare them the further ordeal of testifying in court.
The average age of the victims was 13 1/2, the prosecutor said.
Seen Outside Building
Melvin was arrested March 13 when Sgt. Hampton Davis, a member of a 40-man task force that was working the case, spotted him outside an apartment building in the 300 block of S. Catalina Street.
Melvin, who was carrying a four-inch knife, had a scar on his face similar to one included in a description of the suspect, Davis reported. Looking through the window of Melvin’s car, the officer noticed a maroon jacket, a pink sweat shirt and other items police had been told about.
Melvin was originally charged last month with 26 counts, including kidnaping, forcible rape, assault with intent to rape, attempted rape, assault with a deadly weapon and child molestation. But three new charges, involving two additional teen-age victims, were added after further investigation.
Judge Glenette Blackwell set a hearing date for May 12 to determine when Melvin would be sentenced. Defense attorney Elliott declined to discuss the case.