A jury was selected Wednesday to hear testimony in the high-profile case against a suspended Moorestown cop charged with sexually assaulting three girls. Robert Melia Jr. made headlines in 2010, months after a judge dismissed animal cruelty charges that were lodged against him after police seized videos that allegedly showed him having sex with 5 calves.
The trial is scheduled to begin Thursday morning at 9 a.m. in the courthouse in Mount Holly. Superior Court Judge Charles Delehey will preside over what is expected to be a 2-3 week trial.
Melia, 42, is accused of molesting 3 children in his Cottage Avenue home dating back to 2000. Police said that when Melia was arrested in 2008, they seized pornographic materials and his computer which also contained images.
His former girlfriend, Heather Lewis, 36, of Pemberton, is being tried with him. Police said she was present during the assaults.
The case gained notoriety after Gov. Christie decided not to reappoint Judge James Morley, who had dismissed the animal cruelty charges in September 2009. Morley said in an interview that the governor's chief of staff cited the ruling as one reason he lost his job.
There is no law against bestiality in New Jersey, and the judge had questioned whether the sex acts with the calves had actually tormented the animals, a requirement under the state's animal cruelty laws. Morley said there was not enough evidence especially since the prosecutor never played the videos for the grand jury, relying instead upon the testimony of a detective who had examined the tapes.