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D.A. Won't Pursue Welch Case

Prosecutors say they could not prove an alleged shoving incident beyond reasonable doubt, so no charges will be filed.

Harry Welch has been cleared by the Orange County District Attorney's office, which has refused to file assault charges against the football coach.

Welch, the head football coach at Santa Margarita Catholic, has been on paid administrative leave since last week while being investigated by the Orange County Sheriff.

According to sheriff spokesman Jim Amormino, the school received an anonymous third-party tip via email that a coach at the school "pushed or shoved a student athlete," which could be grounds for assault.

The victim did not file the complaint.

"Based on a thorough review of all the evidence and the law, we believe that we can't prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt and that a jury would not return a guilty verdict," said Farrah Emami, spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.

She said it's not unusual for the office to not file charges, noting that the D.A. takes in 70,000-80,000 submitted cases but files charges in 65,000-70,000 of them.

Although Welch has been cleared by the D.A., the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange said Thursday that he remains on leave "pending a review by the Santa Margarita administration as well as the Diocese of Orange," according to Stephen Bohannon, the diocese spokesman.

"Our review is still ongoing," Bohannon said. "We were anticipating that it would not be a very long review but want to make sure everything is covered."

The incident that sparked the investigation allegedly took place Dec. 13, a few days after Santa Margarita won the Pac-5 championship and three days before it won the State Division I Bowl championship.

For Welch, a second-year coach at Santa Margarita, it was the third state bowl game he had won in six year with three different teams. The team went 13-2 this season and, in Welch's two years heading the program, is 22-5. In the two years prior to his arrival, it was 6-14.

Nancy Thompson January 31, 2012 at 02:52 AM
maybe everyone should start their comments with IMO, I will from now on. Saying I think isn't enough I guess
#2 January 31, 2012 at 04:50 AM
I am glad that everyone who posted about their stance on politics completely forgot that Coach Welch's livelihood is at stake. This man dedicated over four decades to the improvement of our lives of young men and women, and the comments not addressing issues related to the story is insensitive at the least. For those of us who know this great man who has enriched our lives, take this time to rally in support of a leader during these difficult times.
Richard Grainger February 15, 2012 at 07:44 PM
There are not over 100 or so people out of 50,000 residents who give a darn about how our city government was formed. Stupid question not deserving of an answer.
Richard Grainger February 15, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Amen!
Richard Grainger February 15, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Mr. Leonard is still protecting "some of" The Planning Commission! What a joke!

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