A man convicted of raping a Cornell student was sentenced yesterday to a maximum of 25 years. According to police, Draper K. Welch broke into the victim’s apartment, located on the Commons, woke her, threatened to shoot her, sexually assaulted her and then stole several hundred dollars in cash last February.
Assistant District Attorney Linda Gafford, who prosecuted the trial, called the crime a “random act of violence” and Welch “a sexual predator.”
During the sentencing Welch, a 24-year-old, black male, argued that he was innocent, that the sexual intercourse between himself and the victim was consensual and alleged racial biases against himself.
The victim, who is from Korea, was present at the sentencing; she said that Cornell was once her “dream,” but she hates Ithaca now.
Welch, who was already listed as a Level II sex offender, was convicted in December of first-degree rape, first-degree burglary and criminal sexual act, first-degree attempted rape, second-degree assault, third-degree robbery and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
Gafford asked Judge John Rowley for the maximum sentence on each charge, which would have resulted in a sentencing of about 90 years.
Welch and his attorney Diane Galbraith argued that white defendants had recently been offered better plea bargains than he was. Welch also said that the court saw the victim as an “innocent girl” because she is a Cornell student.
The sentencing includes 25 years each for rape, burglary and criminal sexual acts as well as almost 30 years for other charges; the sentences will be served concurrently for a maximum of 25 years.
Welch was dragged out of the Tompkins County Courthouse in handcuffs and, after being put into a police car, kicked out a rear door window.