Zara Scruggs dies after beaten & sexually abused by her football coach father, Austin Stevens at his Lower Providence Township residence.
A Pennsylvania father has been accused of sexually abusing and killing his 10-month-old daughter — with authorities saying the dad waiting an hour to call the cops as he searched terms like ‘my baby isn’t breathing’.
Austin Stevens, 29, was charged with involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, rape of a child, aggravated assault, aggravated indecent assault, endangering the welfare of a child and other offenses, NBC Philadelphia reported.
His daughter, Zara Lynn Scruggs, was found unresponsive in his Lower Providence Township home on Saturday night after the father earlier in the evening picked up the child from the child’s mother’s parents residence and brought her back to his residence.
Respondents rushed the infant to Einstein Medical Center Montgomery where Zara was pronounced dead at 12:12 a.m. Sunday, less than two hours after the father called 911.
An autopsy on Sunday determined that Zara was sexually assaulted and suffered blunt force trauma to the head. The cause and manner of death is still pending.
‘what if you don’t hear baby heart or beat,’
The girl had been picked up from her grandparents’ home in Norristown and taken to Stevens’ apartment, which had no heat or hot water, for the night, NBC reported.
Stevens, a youth football coach in the area, allegedly Googled ‘if baby stop breathing,’ ‘what if you don’t hear baby heart or beat,’ ‘my baby isn’t breathing’ and ‘how do you know if a baby is dead’ for nearly an hour before calling 911, investigators found.
But there’s more. Prosecutors said the father also chatted with two women on social media and texts during that time about topics unrelated to the baby.
‘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 said.
The father had joint custody of Zara along with the baby girl’s mother, Erica Scruggs of Norristown and had brought the 10 month old home with him from Erica’s parents home.
Told the girls’ grandparents via NBC Philadelphia, ‘this is shocking.’
Added the grandfather, ‘he always respected me, respected us. So we would never think anything like this would happen in a million years.’
Stevens is being held in Montgomery County Correctional Facility on $1 million bail.
The man’s next court hearing is Oct. 13.