Long history of sex crimes

Published 12:05 am Friday, July 26, 2013

Man accused of rape attempt convicted in 2 states

Police have charged the Florala man accused of attempted rape in June for failing to register as not only a convicted sex offender but also a multiple felon.

Ronnie James Bettis, 64, is currently being held in the Covington County Jail without bond after he allegedly tried to rape a female friend during the city’s annual Masonic Celebration week.

Star-News archives showed that Bettis allegedly told the victim, “I’m going to get some,” on June 25, threw her to floor, pulled her clothes off and tried to rape her; however, the victim was able to “kick him off, run into a room, lock the door and call 911,” the arresting investigator said.

In this case, Bettis is facing one count of attempted rape, but Covington County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Wesley Snodgrass said Bettis – in addition to other multiple felony convictions – has three sexual offense convictions in two different states.

“Mr. Bettis has a California conviction for unlawful sexual intercourse with a female under 18 and multiple Washington State convictions to include first-degree kidnapping and indecent libertie – a charge that is the equivalent of the Alabama code for sexual abuse,” Snodgrass said. “And under Alabama law, he is required to register his presence with both the Florala Police Department and the sheriff’s office.”

Because of those convictions and his failure to register, Bettis is facing the two new charges from Thursday. Additionally, Bettis has a pending case in Covington County for three counts of distribution after being arrested by drug task force agents in 2012.

“Mr. Pettis is a prime example of why sex offenders are required to register,” said Sheriff Dennis Meeks. “He has convictions in two other states and has failed to register here. Now, he has been charged by Florala police with a new sex crime.”

Meeks said tracking the “growing population of sex offenders and multiple felon offenders” is only one of the duties tasked to his office.

“We have a lot of constitutional responsibilities and unfunded mandates we have to administer, and of course, the sheriff’s office is the arm of the court,” he said. “We serve all of the criminal and civil process that comes through our court system as well as transporting inmates, mental commitments and juveniles.

“Our crime statistics have increased regularly over the last decade, but our personnel numbers have remained the same,” he said. “This only underscores the need for additional personnel needed for the sheriff’s office.”