|Heather Lewis & Robert Melia|
MOUNT HOLLY — A former Moorestown police officer and his one-time girlfriend received lengthy jail terms today for sexually assaulting several youths.
Robert Melia Jr. of Moorestown was ordered to spend 30 years in prison, while Heather Lewis of Pemberton received a 25-year term. Both were convicted in April of multiple sex offenses involving assaults against three juveniles.
Melia, who was suspended from the force after his April 2008 arrest, also was found guilty of official misconduct.
A jury reached no verdict on charges relating to a fourth victim, a teenage girl who was the first to accuse the couple.
Charges against the couple ranged from multiple counts of first degree aggravated sexual assault to endangering the welfare of a child to invasion of privacy, according to the prosecutor's office.
All four accusers — three girls and a boy who ranged in age from 12 to 17 when the alleged assaults took place between 2000 and 2008 — testified during a graphic two-week trial in Superior Court in Mount Holly. They said most of the assaults took place inside Melia's home.
Melia was arrested in April 2008 after a search at his Cottage Avenue home turned up a video that showed him performing sex acts with five calves.
The case soon gained national attention as Melia was charged with animal cruelty. Those charges, however, were later dismissed after a Superior Court judge ruled there wasn't evidence the acts had actually tormented the cows.