State seeks more space for Berkshire Juvenile Court (copy)

A Pittsfield juvenile has been found guilty of aggravated rape of a child with force and was sentenced to the custody of the Department of Youth Services until he is 21. 

PITTSFIELD — A Pittsfield juvenile who had been tried as a youthful offender and found guilty of charges including aggravated rape of a child with force was sentenced last week. That came after a judge heard pleas both for a long prison sentence, from the victim and her family, and for leniency, from a father.

Dylan Welch, 17, was sentenced by Judge Joan McMenemy on Sept. 20 to the custody of the Department of Youth Services until he is 21, followed by five years’ probation, during which time Welch must comply with a number of conditions, including that he has no contact with the victim, remain employed or in school, be drug- and alcohol-free, submit to GPS location monitoring and attend an intimate-partner abuse program.

He also must register as a sex offender.

If Welch violates the conditions, McMenemy ordered him to serve 15 to 18 years in state prison. McMenemy issued the penalty at a sentencing hearing in Berkshire Juvenile Court that was attended by family members of the victim and Welch.

An impact statement written by the victim was read in court. The Eagle does not identify victims of sexual assault.

“What Dylan Welch did to me doesn’t define me. It doesn’t define who I am as a person even though he took my self-confidence and my self-worth away from it. He also took my ability to do most things away from me,” the statement said. “I’m afraid to do anything alone, like go for walks, or even go near train tracks since he assaulted me.”

She said she has been unable to go to school or interact with friends after the assault, which she said resulted in depression, anxiety, emotional breakdowns and flashbacks.

“I continue to fight every day to get my confidence and my life back. I hope with everything he did to me and the way he treated me, he goes to jail for a long time. While he’s in jail, I hope he can think about why he did this,” she wrote.

The victim’s mother, addressing the court, said her daughter’s assault affected her academically, emotionally and physically, requiring one week of hospitalization after emergency surgery and six weeks of bed rest.

“Although Dylan was a juvenile at the time of his crime, I believe he should be treated as an adult, and that the court should give him the max allowed,” the mother said. “He already gave my daughter a life sentence.”

Welch’s father read a statement in support of his son, who he said would fare better on probation than custody after his term in DYS custody ends.

“To send my 17-year-old son to prison would have no benefit for him whatsoever,” he said. “Dylan is a respectful person who is maturing and growing each day. Dylan is a different person now than in 2019.”

The sentence McMenemy adopted was recommended by the juvenile court Probation Department. The recommended sentence from the office of Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington, who was present at Monday’s hearing, was 15 to 18 years of direct time in state prison.

Welch was convicted by a jury in late June of aggravated rape of a child with force and attempted extortion. The jury found that, in 2019, Welch, who was 15 at the time, raped a 14-year-old girl near railroad tracks in a wooded area of Pittsfield. The girl suffered extensive internal injuries that required emergency surgery at Berkshire Medical Center.

Amanda Burke can be reached at aburke@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6296.

Cops and Courts Reporter

Amanda Burke is Cops and Courts Reporter for The Berkshire Eagle. An Ithaca, New York native, she previously worked at The Herald News of Fall River and the Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise.