Myrtle Beach man sentenced for sexually assaulting woman he met online

David James Welch

CONWAY, SC – Thursday Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson announced a Horry County jury convicted a Myrtle Beach man of sexually assaulting a woman he first met online in 2015.

A press release from the Fifteenth Circuit Solicitors office says 21-year-old David James Welch was found guilty of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping by a Horry County jury in a trial that began Monday.

Welch was found not guilty on charges of armed robbery and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime but he was sentenced to 24 years in prison for the criminal sexual conduct and and 24 years for kidnapping. The sentences will run concurrently, the judge ordered.

The jury found Welch guilty of sexually assaulting a woman on Jan. 8, 2015, in the Myrtle Beach area after the two met for the first time. The press release says the victim met and started chatting with Welch online a few days before they agreed to meet in person.  When they met, Welch tricked the victim into driving to an apartment complex, where he said he lived. Welch pointed a gun at the woman, forced her to have sex with him and then stole her purse and cellphone so she could not call police.

The victim called police and reported the crime at a department store at the Coastal Grand Mall, which was nearby, the release said. Police responded, and using the victim’s cellphone records and Facebook records, they were able to corroborate the victim’s account of the incident.

After sentencing Welch for the 2015 sexual assault and kidnapping, the judge revoked Welch’s probation on a prior conviction of strong-armed robbery. Welch was sentenced to serve six years on that robbery charge.

In an unrelated case from November 2014, Welch was also charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping. Those charges remain pending in that incident, which occurred at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach.

Police encourage people meeting for the first to time meet in a public place, let friends and family know who you are meeting with, where you plan to go and what time you should return, give friends and family the person’s contact information and don’t be afraid to leave the situation if you feel uncomfortable.