A former corrections officer will be on the other side of prison bars for the next three years.
Richard Leon Welty, 36, was sentenced Friday to 34 months in prison for having sex with a teenage girl over a two-year period, starting when she was 13.
Welty, who worked at the Airway Heights Corrections Center, met the Spokane-area girl in August 2002 through an Internet chat room. He told her his name was Chad and that he was 24 years old. She told him she was 13, and he arranged to meet her and have sex in the woods near Elk in northern Spokane County.
They had sex six to 10 times, often in Welty’s sport utility vehicle, until the girl was 15. On one occasion when the victim was 15, Welty had sex with her in front of her 11-year-old sister and a 12-year-old friend of theirs. The 12-year-old said Welty kissed her on the lips, gave her a “full body massage” and groped her sexually.
The incident occurred in a house in northwest Spokane, possibly in the 5000 block of North Adams, where Welty took the girls and gave them wine coolers and other alcoholic drinks.
Welty pleaded guilty last month to two counts of third-degree child rape. One of the counts was reduced from second-degree child rape, shaving about seven years off Welty’s potential sentence.
His standard sentencing range was 26 to 34 months, and Welty agreed to accept 34.
Court documents indicate detectives suspected Welty in a “very similar” case, but Deputy Prosecutor Ed Hay said Welty’s plea agreement precludes charges in that incident. The uncharged case involves a 16-year-old girl who said she had sex in a house in northwest Spokane with a man who resembled Welty and drove a similar vehicle.
Welty thanked the victim’s mother Friday for the complaint that led to his arrest, claiming he has had a religious experience that changed his life. He also thanked Spokane County Superior Court Judge Linda Tompkins for giving him the maximum-standard sentence called for in his plea bargain.
The victim’s mother told police in August 2002 that her older daughter was having an improper relationship with someone named Chad, and she made a second report in February 2004 after discovering the relationship had persisted. She heard numerous phone messages left by “Chad” and gave detectives a pager number that was traced to Welty.
Welty was arrested on Jan. 2 of this year after the victim identified him in a photo montage.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.