Couple pleads guilty to rape charges

A former Shelby County pastor and his wife pled guilty last week to raping and sodomizing their two children almost 18 years ago.

Ralph Randall Melton and his wife, Cathy G. Melton, of Jemison, pled guilty to first-degree rape and sodomy in Chilton County District Court. The couple is awaiting sentencing.

Melton was arrested in April 2004 after his daughter filed charges with the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office.

Invesitgators said Melton and his wife raped his then-15-year-old daughter repeatedly between 1975 and 1987.

Investigators began collecting evidence after the victim filed a complaint against her father in November 2003. The couple’s son also filed charges after his sister stepped forward, and the wife was also arrested.

Melton was the pastor of Prospect Baptist Church in Wilsonville at the time of his arrest. He also served as pastor of New Salem Baptist Church in Thorsby and Big Springs Baptist Church in Vida.

The Meltons avoided a trial by entering guilty pleas on the day the court was set to strike a jury, according to V. Randall Houston, district attorney for the 19th Circuit.

Houston said the two are expected to receive two 10-year sentences on May 8 when they appear before Chilton County Judge Sibley Reynolds for sentencing.

Houston said it was important for the victims to hear the plea.

&8220;In this case, we had victims that were very interested in hearing the Meltons admit publicly to what they had done. The victims have been living with this a long time,&8221; Houston said. &8220;That’s part of the reason we agreed to the settlement.&8221;

The Meltons will be required to register as sex offenders and comply with the community notification act.

Under state law, the couple must notify the sheriff that they are sex offenders and the sheriff must send out notifications to the community of the couple’s address and convictions