Snejana Farberov, Daily Mail, October 7, 2020
A Pennsylvania father has been arrested for allegedly raping his 10-month-old daughter, who later died from her injuries at a hospital.
Austin Stevens, 29, of Providence Township, was charged on Tuesday with aggravated sexual assault, rape of a child, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, endangering the welfare of a child and other criminal counts in the death of his baby daughter, Zara Scruggs.
According to a press release from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, at around 10.40pm on Saturday, Lower Providence police responded to a home in the 3400 block of Germantown Road to a report of an unresponsive infant.
Officers immediately began CPR on Zara and transported her to Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, where she was pronounced dead less than two hours later.
Police obtained a search warrant to download the contents of Stevens’ phone, which revealed that the 29-year-old father had conducted multiple Google searches for nearly an hour before calling 911 to get help for his dying daughter.
The subjects of Stevens’ online searches included ‘If baby stop breathing,’ ‘What if you don’t hear baby heart or beat,’ ‘My baby isn’t breathing,’ and ‘How do you know if a bsby [sic] is dead,’ according to prosecutors.
Stevens also allegedly exchanged social media messages and texts with two women, which failed to mention his daughter’s condition.
A search of Stevens’ upstairs apartment turned up a diaper Zara was wearing during the alleged rape.
An autopsy determined that the baby girl, who had just learned how to walk, sustained anal rectal trauma and blunt force trauma to the head.
‘This case is deeply disturbing. It is hard to imagine this child’s death being any more traumatic: sexual assault on an infant, followed by inaction by the father to save her life, led to her death,’ said Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, calling the crime ‘heinous’.
Stevens is being held at the county jail on $1million bail pending a preliminary hearing set for October 13.
Social media posts indicate that Stevens is the co-owner of a construction company, reported ABC6. He also served as an assistant coach for the Lower Providence Warriors youth football team.
The 10-month-old was sexually assaulted and sustained blunt force trauma. Her diaper from the time of the rape was found saturated with blood
Stevens had a joint custody agreement with Zara’s mother, according to authorities. As NBC10 reported, the baby’s maternal grandparents were among the last people to see her alive when they placed her in her father’s car so he could take her to his apartment for an overnight visit.
Erica Scruggs, the baby’s mother, took to Facebook on Tuesday, writing: ‘I’m not okay. I really have no words … He will pay.’
Meanwhile, Zara’s relative has launched a GoFundMe page to help her grieving mother. The fundraiser so far has drawn more than $28,000 in donations.
‘She sparked so much joy,’ the organizer of the campaign wrote in the description. ‘She was smart. She was silly. She was sassy. She was perfect. She was a beautiful baby and brought so much beauty into hundreds of lives.’