February 8, 2007

Man Sentenced in Rape of Cornell Student

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A man convicted of raping a Cornell student was sentenced to a maximum of 25 years in a state prison Monday.

According to police, Draper Welch broke into the victim’s apartment on Feb. 22, 2006, woke her, threatened to shoot her and sexually assaulted her. He then stole several hundred dollars in cash and some DVDs from the victim before leaving her apartment, which was located on the Commons.

Assistant District Attorney Linda Gafford, who prosecuted the trial, called the crime a “random act of violence” and Welch “a sexual predator,” according to the Ithaca Journal.

During the sentencing Welch, a 25-year-old, black Ithacan, argued that he was innocent, that the sexual intercourse between himself and the victim was consensual and alleged racial biases against himself.

The victim, an international student, was present at the sentencing; she said that Cornell was once her “dream,” but that she hates Ithaca now.

Welch, who was already listed as a Level II sex offender, was convicted in December of rape, attempted rape, criminal sexual act, burglary, assault, robbery and 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 had been offered. 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.