Moorestown Cop Robert Melia Gets 30-Year Sentence for Sex Crimes

Melia and ex-girlfriend Heather Lewis will both serve between 20-30 years in state prison for assaulting teenagers.

A judge provided a stinging rebuke of sex offenders Robert Melia and Heather Lewis Thursday, before handing down sentences that will keep the soon-to-be former Moorestown police officer and his ex-girlfriend/accomplice behind bars for the next 20 to 30 years.

Melia and Lewis were convicted in April on a slew of charges stemming from the sexual assault of multiple teenage victims between 2000 and 2007. The former couple were found guilty of incapacitating and assaulting a number of girls—one damning video showed one of the accusers blindfolded and shackled, with Lewis performing sex acts on the girl and the girl instructed to perform sex acts on Lewis.

Reflecting on their crimes prior to imposing sentencing, Judge Charles Delehey expressed disbelief and disgust at Melia’s and Lewis’ actions and chastised them for taking advantage of their victims, who, because of their age and intellectual challenges, “served as easy prey.”

“The defendants viewed the victims as children too scared to reveal what happened to them. So certain were they that they videotaped for 35 minutes the commission of one of their crimes … a sexual assault, the victim blindfolded, bound and unconscious,” he said. “What sort of person does something like that? And for what purpose? Their conduct cannot be excused; it cannot be minimized.”

Melia scowled and forcefully shook his head during parts of the judge’s speech, while Lewis mostly sat and listened intently.

Prosecutor Kevin Morgan sought sentences of 52 years each for Melia and Lewis, and suggested he could have asked for more. Morgan explained the abhorrent nature of their crimes, as well as their refusal to submit to psychological evaluations, warranted such lengthy sentences.

However, Melia’s attorney Mark Catanzaro said Morgan’s assertion that the prosecution was somehow being magnanimous with its recommendation was “absurd.”

“We all know the prison environment is not conducive to long life,” Catanzaro said. “He’ll be 86 (by the time he’s released) under their magnanimous recommendation. It’s a life sentence, no matter how you slice it.”

Lewis’s attorney Bonnie Geller-Gorman asked the judge to consider her client’s children—particularly her 2-year-old daughter—and suggested Lewis had a bigger bull’s-eye on her because of Melia’s position as a police officer.

Melia, who formerly lived on Cottage Avenue in Moorestown, was suspended without pay from the Moorestown Police Department after his arrest in 2008. Township attorney Thomas Coleman said Melia could not be formally terminated until after the sentencing. Melia will lose all his benefits and pension upon being fired from the department.

Melia's and Lewis’ case drew national attention not only because of his position as a police officer, but because the original indictment included animal cruelty charges against Melia for allegedly performing sex acts on calves. Those charges were previously dismissed.

Both defendants declined an opportunity to speak on their own behalf prior to sentencing Thursday.

Though he had harsh words for the defendants, Judge Delehey elected not to impose the maximum sentences, drawing from prior case law. He sentenced Lewis to up to 25 years in state prison and Melia to up to 30 years, including five for official misconduct because of his position as a police officer.

“He did blatantly fail to protect those whom he was sworn to protect—children,” the judge wrote.

Delehy also suggested the defendants’ refusal to cooperate with sexual offender evaluations could be an impediment to their future release.

“The court notes the defendants have pled their innocence as an excuse for failing to submit to sexual offender evaluations,” Delehey wrote. “Whatever their reasons, their intransigence may delay their return to liberty. Upon achieving parole eligibility, their release may be delayed if they are viewed as potential violent sexual predators who have failed to cooperate in their rehabilitation.”

As part of their sentence, Melia and Lewis are considered Megan’s Law offenders and subject to community supervision for life.

Catanzaro and Geller-Gorman both said their clients plan on appealing.

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Pete October 12, 2012 at 04:09 PM
As a women? October 14, 2012 at 05:46 PM
As a women in Moorestown I am concerned with: 1. That there has been now real ownership from our Moorestown Police Department about this sad, violent and despicable Moorestown Police Office. Why? 2. How could this man be on the Moorestown Police Department and nobody knew? 3. Are women in Moorestown safe with this behavior in our Moorestown Police Department? 4. Why has not the Mayor taken a stand on this important issue? He writes about everything else. 5. Why have we not heard from our elected town council leaders? 6. How do the women in Moorestown know that the current police staff are to be trusted? 7. What investigations in the police department have been done on their current staff? 8. What remedial training for Moorestown Police Department has taken place? As a women in Moorestown, I am concerned, very concerned.
Moira October 14, 2012 at 07:03 PM
When a fiduciary abuses his or trust to the public, the penalties should be greater than what might be imposed on an ordinary member of the public. This police officer, sworn to "protect and serve," should have received more than 30 years. "As a women," all excellent questions. I wonder how many of the despicable Miss Lewis's friends knew about her predilections, which sound like an episode of "Wicked Attraction." And now she wants to worry about her children. Fortunately for them, they'll be raised by someone else. "As a women," you are actually a womAn.
Kurt October 15, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Cops have changed in many ways in the past ten to fifteen years. A massive amount of trust issues have been brought about in every community across America. DHS has infiltrated the very fabric of law enforcement and the propaganda is turning local, state and federal law enforcement into paranoid storm troopers with brute ego issues and it has become very prevalent to the point that it has become a us and them situation.
Pete October 15, 2012 at 02:01 AM
I’m sure you had the exact same concerns when Pres. Bill Clinton took advantage of a young girl in the White House………………… Plus his other exploits against vulnerable women. Any real difference between him and Melia?
Moira October 15, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Pete -- Are you serious? Kidnapping, drugging and raping teenagers? Really? C'mon, get serious. Ridiculous analogy. And I was really pissed at Bill for that stupid dalliance. But there's no comparison.
Joan October 15, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Not surprising the reaction from Moorestown men is knee jerk and dumb. It wasn't surprising that neither the Moorestown Police Department nor anyone on Town Council even reponded publically to the horrible circumstance. I am offended.
Pete October 15, 2012 at 03:37 AM
DALLIANCE???? That bum gets a Lewinski in the White House, and molests at least two other women that we know of. Seems to me that they both took advantage of their positions to gain sexual advantage. I was embarrassed for our country by Clinton and equally embarrassed for Moorestown by Melia. They are both bums but the Liberals let Bill get away with it. Clinton should have been impeached for lying to congress and the public “I did not have sex with that woman” and Melia should have gotten at least 50 years. Bill is still the hero of the Libs and gets $100k+ for an appearance to speak. His wife is just as bad for not calling him to task for political purposes of her own.
Exnj October 15, 2012 at 06:59 AM
You wouldn't chop down the Forrest because of a bad tree. You cannot disrespect and question the MPD because of what Melia and his girlfriend have done. The police officers are the ones that arrested him and stoped him from harming any other people. As for they should of known. You can't tell when a person is going to go crazy or loose it. If Melia hasn't done anything prior to his background investigation then how do you suggest they know what he'd do in the futer. Every police dept., fire dept, school, office, mc Donald's, where ever you work has a bad apple or two. It's just the way it is. Just remember who it is that you call and who it is that comes out and fixes it for you. The next time you see a cop drive by, wave to them and say thank you. Or don't, but don't go on the Internet and start bashing them and pointing fingers saying who can Women trust, and are women safe, and what remedial training have they had now because one person made bad choices. Give me a break. There was "A" problem and it has been dealt with. I guarente the officers of the MPD and surrounding departments are very embarrassed and just as upset as you about this. To the officer on the job, hold your head high and be proud of what you do. Unfortunatly you all have to work even harder to earn the trust of these people back, but you all deserve there respect. Thank you.
Bob Vey October 15, 2012 at 11:18 AM
The general public should be aware that, it is not "only men" who kidnap kids or adults for that matter. Many women "help" their husbands or boyfriends kidnap. Teach your children not to trust women as well. The general public believes that all women have a maternal instincts & would "never" kidnap anyone. Knowing this false belief the kidnappers often use women to lure their prey. And then it's to late.
Pete October 15, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Exnj, you are quite correct. It’s an absolute shame that a couple of women on this Patch are trying to destroy the entire Police Dept. and other town management for the antics of one person. I wonder if either of them can be quite certain that their adult children are not hiding some deep / dark secrets. I certainly cannot vouch for my adult children’s behavior beyond what I see in their personality, actions, and interfaces with me.
Iggy S October 16, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Another Cop gone bad.
Pete October 17, 2012 at 12:25 AM
I heard the other day that a carpenter in Ohio went bad. And a lawyer in NH went bad. And a schoolteacher in Salem county went bad. And a dentist in CA went bad. And a fisherman in MA went bad. And a gold miner in AK went bad. Hey Iggy S, WHAT’S YOUR POINT?????
Jeff Juraska January 12, 2014 at 06:38 PM
so you Guys or girls are sticking up for your Brother Officer? I think you're drunk on donuts.
Jeff Juraska January 12, 2014 at 06:41 PM
48 counts of sex with children? 5 counts of sex with Calves? What if it was your children.. And as far as the Department goes. They are liable for anyone who works for them... as are the Town Officials who employed him. That's a fact.


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