MOULTON — There was a tone of disgust in Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Mitchell’s voice as he talked about the arrest of a registered sex offender on another sexual abuse charge.
“They don’t get better. They do it again,” Mitchell said Wednesday. “It’s obvious. All they need is opportunity.”
Mitchell said Wendell Melson, 45, 1008 Lawrence 323, Moulton, is charged with sexual abuse of a child younger than 12 and first-degree sexual abuse. He is accused of sexually abusing a 7-year-old girl.
He said his investigators worked with the Morgan County Department of Human Resources on the case. He said the allegations were reported Jan. 5.
“Since he was on parole for the previous incidents, when we started investigating the case, he was picked up on the parole violation and held in jail until we sorted through these allegations,” Mitchell said. “Once we had everything together, he was charged on this case.”
Melson is accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with the 7-year-old family acquaintance. Reports indicate the attack occurred when the child was visiting Melson and his family at his home in Lawrence County.
Melson was convicted of second-degree rape in September 1987. That case involved a 13-year-old girl.
In June 1997, Melson was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse and attempted first-degree rape involving an 11-year-old girl.
“Hopefully, he will be going away for a long while,” Mitchell said.
Sexual abuse of a child under 12 is a Class B felony punishable by 2-20 years in prison if convicted. First-degree sexual abuse is a Class C felony punishable by 1-10 years in prison.
Reports from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network indicate 15 percent of sexual assault and rape victims are younger than 12. Authorities said it is not unusual for victims to know their attackers.
A report by RAINN points out that 93 percent of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attackers. More than 50 percent are acquaintances.
Melson is being held in the Lawrence County Jail on bail of $45,000.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.