Just add this to the incredible shitpile on DD that is the systemic failure to protect children. The story is long, but the outcome as far as sentencing for this walking man-turd is some consolation, if any can be had.
https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/crime_courts/2019/06/24/deon-austin-welch-found-guilty-15-counts-child-sexual-abuse/1530753001/A Riverside County jury has found Deon Austin Welch guilty of multiple counts of child sexual abuse after just two hours of deliberations.
The verdict followed weeks of graphic testimony detailing years of sexual abuse he committed against the juvenile daughter of his girlfriend, which resulted in the victim giving birth to Welch's child at age 13.
Welch was convicted of 15 counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and one enhancement of bodily injury with sex offense, because of the victim's pregnancy. A spokesman for the district attorney's office said Welch faces a sentence of 230 years to life in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 9.
Welch, 30, was arrested in Redlands by the Hemet Police Department on March 17, 2017, years after the girl had reported to a family friend that he had repeatedly raped her, and after DNA tests determined he fathered the child she birthed in 2016. Welch was charged with 21 counts of aggravated sexual assault and one count of committing multiple lewd acts with a child.
In addition to the horror of the accusations, Welch’s trial is burdened by the $10 million settlement the County of Riverside agreed to pay the victim to drop her civil suit against the county for the Department of Public Social Services' failures to properly investigate her case. The civil settlement has not yet been paid out.
Sean Oswill, the prosecuting attorney, told the jury Monday that the victim felt trapped after first reporting being raped when she was 11 years old to a family friend. She was not taken seriously, Oswill said, and so she lost faith that the system was able to help her.
“For almost two years, [the victim] learned not to complain," Oswill told the jury. "She learned to silence the truth, the truth of the repeated rapes occurring in her apartment."
It was not until 2016, when a doctor informed the victim that she was six months pregnant, Oswill said, that actions to protect her from further abuse were taken and the victim and her brothers were put into foster care.
In the years between when she first reported being raped and when she gave birth to Welch's child, Oswill said, CPS repeatedly failed to protect her. In one example Oswill provided, a social worker completed a "safety plan" and had Welch and Adriana Horowitz, the victim's mother, sign it.
The social worker had the two sign the plan in spite of the fact that the victim had previously reported Welch raped her, and a recently withdrawn restraining order that stated he had left the country. Oswill showed the jurors a copy of the plan on the court's projector. The plan stated that the victim's mother should have a mental health exam and that Welch, referred to as Devon instead of his real name Deon, was expected to help supervise the children. Welch should have never been living in the house, Oswill said, the social workers should have told law enforcement he had moved back in, and they should have listened to the victim's initial report of being raped, he added.
“The Department of Public Social Service indirectly ignored her and allowed her to be placed in a home with a child rapist for 23 months after they devised their so-called safety plan," Oswill said.
On Monday, the final day of testimony, the defense called their only witness, Riverside County Department of Social Services Child Service Supervisor Henry Meza, one of the social workers who attempted to investigate the case, to testify.
Meza interviewed the victim in June 2016 after a call was made regarding her brother and almost two years after the safety plan was signed. Meza said he did not know the victim was approximately four months pregnant when he interviewed her and said the victim denied being abused.
When Oswill asked Meza what he would have done if he had known she was pregnant at the time of the interview, Meza hesitated.
“I cannot answer that question because it is a hypothetical," Meza said initially. Then he said he would have to discuss it with his supervisor.
Meza said he had reviewed the reports made by other social workers in several previous visits with the victim to investigate the abuse, but ultimately determined there was no abuse occurring. A determination that Oswill told the jury was incorrect and ultimately tragic.
"What he didn’t do was his job, along with other DPSS workers, and that's to find out what was really going on in that house and stop it," Oswill said to the jury after Meza's testimony.
Michael Micallef, the defense attorney, seized on inconsistencies in the victim's reporting over the years, saying her story changed because she lied about it.
“She is a liar," Micallef said. "She has presented that over and over again."
Micallef had previously attacked the credibility of the victim at the opening of the trial. Micallef said his client should not be held accountable for whatever CPS failed to do. And he said that the sizable settlement, which the court is still determining how to distribute, is an incentive for her to further stick to a false story.
“She has to continue to say that she’s been raped,” Micallef told the jury. “She has ten million reasons to lie.”
Micallef told the jury that in spite of the numerous counts of rape his client faces, the pregnancy is the only evidence that the two had any sexual contact.
The victim first alleged that she had been raped by Welch to her mother’s coworker, Shannon Esposito, on March 31, 2014. Court filings show that the victim told Esposito that her mother’s boyfriend would come into her bedroom and commit the abuse. Esposito reported the abuse allegation to the Hemet Police Department.
About a month later, Adrianna Horowitz, the victim’s mother, obtained a restraining order to remove Welch from her home. In June 2014, the victim underwent a forensic interview with Denise Moore from the Riverside County Child Assessment Team.
“During the interview, the victim recounted being raped multiple times by the defendant in their Hemet apartment,” a pre-trial filing reads.
Horowitz requested that the family court remove the restraining order she had previously obtained to keep Welch out of the house.
According to a filing by the prosecution, Horowitz told the court and later a detective from the Hemet Police Department that Welch was “living in Mexico” and had “no way of returning back to the state.”
Social workers from CPS did go to the home in 2014 and found Welch was living there again. They did not notify law enforcement that Welch had returned to the home despite Horowitz’s statements that he was living in Mexico, Oswill said in court. Instead, he said, they asked him to sign off on a “safety plan” in which he would help supervise the victim and her two younger brothers.
From late 2014 until it was determined she was pregnant, CPS was in and out of the house, Oswill said. But the victim recanted her claims that she was being raped, Oswill said, out of fear of further retalliation from her caretakers.
On Nov. 4, 2016, the victim gave birth to a child and subsequent DNA testing determined Welch was the father.
Riverside County’s former top child-protection official, Susan von Zabern, left her job Sept. 10, 2018, as the county fought the victim’s civil case and another case alleging that severe child abuse continued after the department had finished their investigations.
Days later, Riverside County launched an ongoing review of the Adult and Children’s Protective Services division.
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