No freedom for pedophile

Although his prison sentence has ended, a man who suffocated a 3-year-old girl as he raped her in 1962 will remain in state custody.

A judge ruled Thursday that Gary Welsh, 68, would be a danger if allowed to walk free.

Welsh was convicted in 1973 of the Harvard murder for shoving the girl’s face into a pillow to silence her screams while he raped her, prosecutors said.

“It was not a quiet, simple act. It was bloody. It was loud,” Joelle Marasco, an assistant Illinois attorney general, said at the close of the three-day bench trial Thursday. “He used a lot of force to hold her down.”

The judge’s ruling will require Welsh to indefinitely remain in the custody of the Illinois Department of Human Services, where he will be offered mental-health treatment. But he could be back in a courtroom in less than a year, asking again to be freed.

Prosecutors petitioned for Welsh to remain incarcerated under the Illinois Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act.

Under the act, defendants convicted of sexually violent crimes are evaluated at the end of their sentences to determine whether they are likely to repeat the offense. If so, prosecutors could request that they remain in custody for treatment.

McHenry County Assistant Public Defender Richard Behof acknowledged that the crime was gruesome, but said Welsh had changed in the 45 years that he had been incarcerated.

“I know this is an unpopular case. I know it is going to be an unpopular decision, but I would ask the court to deny this petition,” Behof said. “They haven’t shown you anything since 1962 that shows he’s a danger.”

A psychologist who testified for Welsh said Thursday that he didn’t believe Welsh still was mentally ill and had a low risk of repeating the offense, despite two doctors put on the stand by the state who said the opposite.

Judge Sharon Prather sided with prosecutors after hearing testimony from several doctors.

“The state has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Prather said.

Welsh was sentenced to 60 to 100 years in prison for the crime he committed while baby sitting the child in Harvard. He was paroled in 2005. He then went into the custody of Human Services while prosecutors began the legal process of declaring him sexually violent.

According to court documents filed by prosecutors, Welsh suffers from pedophilia, alcoholism, antisocial personality disorder and mental retardation.

Leading up to the murder, Welsh had a history of sexually deviant behavior, which included raping his sister and abusing his cousin in his early teens, a doctor who evaluated Welsh testified.

Published in: on November 9, 2007 at 1:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

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