Man charged with child rape of 10-month-old daughter that died

Austin Kamal Stevens, 29, of Germantown Pike, Pennsylvania. [Image credit: Montgomery County District Attorney's Office]


Saturday night at 10:40 pm 10-month-old Zara Scruggs was reported to 911 as suffering from cardiac arrest in her father's home.  She was transported to Einstein Medical Center in Montgomery County where she was pronounced dead at 12:12 am on October 4.


According to CBS Philly, the Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele stated that a blood-saturated diaper was given to authorities by those that had transported the infant to the hospital.


29-year-old Austin Kamal Stevens told investigators that he had been bathing his daughter, but left her unattended for a brief period of time before hearing a "bang" which he believed was Zara striking her head on the tub.  He stated that he had moved her from the tub to the bedroom before seeing her become unresponsive.


Between 9:27 pm and 10:22 pm Stevens ran several searches on his cell phone including, "if baby stop breathing," "to how give CPR to a baby," "my baby isn't breathing" and "how do you know if a baby is dead," according to the criminal complaint.  He finally placed the call to 911 at 10:40 pm.


During that time, he also spoke with two unidentified women via text message and social media.  Neither conversation related to Zara's need for medical attention.


Due to a custody agreement between Stevens and Zara's mother, she was in his sole care at the time of her death.


“This investigation into this horrific and deeply disturbing case is ongoing. It’s hard to imagine how this child’s death could be any more traumatic. Sexual assault of an infant is heinous, and then followed by the inaction of her father to save her life all led to this child’s death,” Steele said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference.


An autopsy revealed that Zara was not only sexually assaulted, but that she had also sustained blunt force trauma to the head.  The cause and manner of death though, are still pending.  Steele is awaiting that information before determining if additional charges will be filed against Stevens.


“Depending upon what those findings are, there may be other charges forthcoming regarding this child’s death,” Steele said. “We’re waiting for the determinations to be made by the forensic pathologist. In a case like this involving an infant, there are further tests that need to be done.  Steele noted though, that the charges already filed against Stevens could carry a possible sentence of life in prison.


Stevens is currently being held in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in lieu of $1 million bail.  He has been charged with  involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, rape of a child, aggravated assault, aggravated indecent assault and endangering the welfare of a child.


His preliminary hearing is scheduled for October 13.


“If anybody has any information about other abuse at the hands of this defendant we ask them to please call Lower Providence police or the Montgomery County Detective Bureau and provide that information. As I said, this investigation is ongoing,” Steele added.  He additionally disclosed that Stevens has been an assistant football coach for the Lower Providence Warriors.



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