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Animal cruelty case leads to rape arrest

Arcadia, N.Y. -- A man arrested in May on Felony Animal Cruelty Charges was indicted on 1st Degree Rape charges this week. Authorities say publicity surrounding the first arrest helped witnesses identify the rape suspect.

Animal Cruelty Case

Evan Welcher, now 27 of Arcadia, was first arrested by New York State Police for beating his American Bulldog, then tying it up to a tree outside and shooting it at least five times. 13WHAM News uncovered X-Rays showing bullets still lodged inside the dog. Witnesses told police Welcher began beating the dog because garbage was removed from the trash can.

When the dog urinated on a bed while it was being beaten Welcher reportedly dragged the dog outside and tied it to a tree.

Welcher later admitted to the crime and has since pled guilty in that case. He faces one year in the Wayne County Jail when he is sentenced in September.

News of Welchers arrest first broke in The Times of Wayne County on June 9. 13WHAMs News partner published a front page story and included Welchers mugshot.

Rape Investigation

While the community was learning about Welchers arrest Wayne County Sheriffs Office Investigators were hard at work on an open rape investigation. The incident happened in October days before Halloween at a house party in the Town of Arcadia.

"This allegedly occurred during a party, outside, next to a garage, on the ground in the pouring rain, explained Wayne County District Attorney Richard Healy. "The allegation here is that she was in fact unconscious at the time that he was having sex with her as the result of a date rape drug and alcohol.

In fact the victim learned about the rape from her friends who informed her the next day because some witnesses the assault.

"The condition of the victim was such that she did not know she was raped until she was told the next day that somebody saw her having sex, said Healy.

This man allegedly came out and raped a woman who was passed out on the lawn, said Ron Holdraker of the Times of Wayne County. The woman had no clue she was even being raped, three witnesses came out and pushed and shoved him off of her and he took off and they had no idea who he was.

Forensic evidence was gathered and the investigation heated up on June 9th when Evan Welchers photograph was published in The Times.

"I think they (investigators) were pretty well focused on this guy but when his mug hit the paper that kind of convinced (them), you know everybody's going - that's him, said Holdraker.

Two days later investigators questioned Welcher and while he denied any involvement in the alleged rape he did admit he was at the Halloween party where it happened. Court documents obtained by 13WHAM News reveal that Welcher also recognized the victim when investigators showed him her photograph.

Well there was definitely a lot of underage drinking going on, Welcher reportedly told investigators in an audio recorded interview. I dont recall making out with no girl. Sex I definitely would remember.

Investigators asked if Welcher would be willing to give them a written statement acknowledging that much, and if hed be willing to submit a DNA sample to clear him from the investigation.

No I dont wanna give a DNA sample or testament, no nothing, Welcher replied.

A Grand Jury Indicts Welcher

Evidence in the case was submitted to a Wayne County Grand Jury and Welcher was indicted this week on a 1st Degree Rape charge. If convicted he faces up to 25 years in prison.

The witnesses all told me they saw him on Facebook and then they saw him in the Times newspaper and that was the same guy that they saw raping this girl, said D.A. Healy.

D.A. Healy now has a pending motion in front of the court that is asking the judge to order that Welcher submit a DNA sample for testing. The judge has not ruled on that motion yet.

Welcher pled not guilty to the Rape charge and is presumed innocent.

For more on this story look in The Times of Wayne County when it hits newsstands on Saturday.

Sean Carroll, 13WHAM-TV
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