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Pennsylvania 10-month-old girl dead after brutal rape by OWN father who waited an hour before calling 911

Before calling authorities, Austin Stevens also googled ‘My baby isn’t breathing,' and 'How do you know if a baby is dead’
Austin Stevens (Montgomery County District Attorney)
Austin Stevens (Montgomery County District Attorney)

PROVIDENCE TOWNSHIP, PENNSYLVANIA: A ten-month-old baby died after her own father allegedly raped her and waited for an hour before calling the authorities. The alleged incident reportedly took place on Saturday, October 3. Austin Stevens allegedly raped Zara Scruggs before calling 911 for help. The 29-year-old father was arrested on charges of aggravated sexual assault, rape of a child, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and other criminal counts.

A press release from the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office mentioned that Lower Providence police officers arrived at a home in the 3400 block of Germantown Road at around 10.40 pm after receiving information about an unresponsive child. Shortly after their arrival, they performed CPR on the little girl before shifting her to Einstein Medical Center, where she died at 12.12 am on Sunday, October 4.

An investigation was then launched into the death of Zara and detectives obtained a search warrant to download the contents of Stevens’ phone. The 29-year-old had googled things like “If baby stop breathing,” “What if you don’t hear baby heart or beat,” “My baby isn’t breathing,” “How do you know if a baby [sic] is dead,” prosecutors said as reported by The Daily Mail. Besides, the accused also sent messages to two women on social media but he did not mention Zara's condition in those texts.

Cops also searched Stevens' upstairs apartment, where they found the toddler’s diaper which she was wearing during the alleged rape. The press release from the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office said: “The diaper was saturated with blood.” While an autopsy conducted on the dead child revealed that she 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,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele.

The accused father, who is the co-owner of a construction company and in the past was an assistant coach for the Lower Providence Warriors youth football team, is held at the county jail and his bond has been set at $1 million. A preliminary hearing into the case has been scheduled for October 13. As per ABC6, colleagues of Stevens said this is "not in his character" and "think there are some other variables in play resulting in the charges."

Reports stated that Stevens and Zara’s mother, Erica Scruggs, were separated and share a joint custody agreement. It was also said that the tot’s maternal grandparents were the last who saw her alive when they handed her over to the father so he could take her to his house. On Tuesday, October 6, Erica wrote on Facebook: “I’m not okay. I really have no words... He will pay.”

A GoFundMe page has also been launched to help raise money for Zara’s devastated mother. The message on the page read: “Our beautiful Zara Lynn Scruggs was taken from us by a monster. She deserved to grow up. She deserved to be with her family. She deserved all the amazing things in this world. She didn’t deserve to die at the young age of 10 months.”

“As you can imagine, her mother is grieving. We want to ensure that she is comfortable during this time and does not have to worry about any financial burdens associated with losing her child, including a memorial, moving costs, supporting Erica while she is out of work, and starting a foundation to remember our beautiful Zara. Anything you can donate is greatly appreciated. Please pray for Zara, her mother, and our family. Thank you,” it added.