California Pedophile Sentenced To 230 Years For Raping Girl 'At Least 90 Times'

"If a defendant ever deserved a maximum sentence, in a case such as this, [Deon Austin] Welch deserves it," said a California judge of the man who repeatedly raped a young girl.

By Eric Shorey
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A prosecutor in California described the case of a pedophile who was just handed a 230-year sentence as “possibly the most egregious child sexual assault case" he has ever seen.

Deon Austin Welch, 30, was sentenced Friday after being convicted of 16 counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child with a sentence-enhancing great bodily injury allegation. Welch had raped a girl he lived with dozens of times, leading to her getting pregnant. The case has since generated considerable criticism of Riverside County's child welfare agency, which had settled with the victim for $10 million last summer after failing to remove her from the home.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Bernard Schwartz explained his choice of handing down the most severe possible sentence in this situation, while condemning the system which allowed the crimes to continue without intervention.

"If a defendant ever deserved a maximum sentence, in a case such as this, Mr. Welch deserves it," said Schwartz, according to The Desert Sun of Palm Springs, California. "This case is a complete travesty. There was a failing by our social services in this case that resulted in additional harm, both emotional and physical, to the victim. It appears the people responsible for taking care of her, her mother and Department of Public Social Services, failed her."

Prosecutors believe that Welch began abusing the victim, who remains unnamed in reports, in 2014 — when she was 11 years old. They said that the sexual attacks, which began as groping and escalated to rape, continued until the end of 2016. 

The girl told a friend she was being raped in 2014, prompting an investigation which was cut short after the mother intervened. The mother told investigators that Welch had moved out of the house.

In October 2014, a Department of Public Social Services case worker spoke with the victim about the abuse without notifying the police.

“DPSS asked the defendant to sign off on a ‘safety plan’ they drafted, requesting he assist in supervision of the children while the mother stabilized on her medication,” according to a court document, obtained by The Press-Enterprise of San Bernadino, California. “The only option left for the victim was to learn to accept the situation and survive. There was no way out and no place to run.”

Case workers continued to visit the home throughout the next two years but were told by the victim that the abuse was not ongoing.

In June of 2016, the mother asked a doctor if they could perform an abortion for the child, prompting further investigation. It was in a September 2016 interview that the child, then 13, admitted to being raped "at least 90 times," according to a prosecutor.

The girl's baby, which was born on Nov. 4, 2016, was DNA-tested — thus proving Welch's paternity, leading to his arrest in March.

The teen's mother later admitted she may have been told about the abuse but had perhaps tried to “block it out." The mother went on to plead guilty to child abuse, perjury, and accessory to a felony and was sentenced to a year in jail and four years probation in June 2018.

The fallout from the criticism of the child welfare agency has already resulted in the resignation of Department of Public Social Services Director Susan von Zabern and a comprehensive review of practices and procedures within the agency. The same agency has faced criticisms for failing to intervene in the case of Noah McIntosh, an 8-year-old who said he was being abused before being murdered, allegedly by his father, earlier this year.

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