Man faces trial in two rapes in 1992

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Twenty-two years after they were raped in separate attacks in Shadyside, two women met for the first time Thursday and confronted their suspected rapist in court.

Each described how a stranger forced himself onto them and made comments about their "big beautiful legs."

The suspect, Arthur Fryar, 61, of Brooklyn, N.Y., stood about 10 feet away, staring at the first victim until District Judge Anthony Ceoffe asked him to look straight ahead, toward the judge, for the remainder of the proceeding. Mr. Fryar was ordered held for trial.

The women did not know Mr. Fryar's name until last year, when Pittsburgh police and lab workers at the Allegheny County medical examiner's office worked to match samples taken from their rape examinations to one submitted by Mr. Fryar during an unrelated arrest and uploaded into a national database.

The match provides an "investigative lead," testified Janine Yelenovsky, who oversees serology in the medical examiner's office. Sex assault detective Aprill-Noelle Campbell, supported by a search warrant, obtained a second sample from Mr. Fryar before his hearing that should provide a more conclusive answer as to whether Mr. Fryar indeed raped the women.

If those samples provide a match to Mr. Fryar, he could face a long prison sentence, said defense attorney Jeffrey Weinberg.

But Mr. Weinberg also hinted that a Pennsylvania law that provides officials with a short window to prosecute people for decades-old sex assault cases if they were not previously identified as a suspect has not been widely tested at the appellate level.

"There are some questions as to what identification means in 1992 and what it might mean now," he said.

Bolstering the prosecution's case is a statement Mr. Fryar gave to Detective Campbell after U.S. marshals arrested him in Brooklyn in September. During the interview, the detective testified, Mr. Fryar initially said he lived in Penn Hills at the time of the assaults but did not recall them.

Part way through, he asked the detective, "What do you want from me?"

She said she replied, "I want the truth" and told him she wanted to spare the women the pain of testifying so it would help if he could tell her something distinctive about the cases.

"He smiled," she said, and then said it was "their legs -- they had beautiful legs."

Detective Campbell said she told Mr. Fryar the women would thank him.

"He said, 'Please, I don't want them to thank me. I want their forgiveness,' " the detective testified.

Both victims testified Thursday. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette does not typically name victims in sex assault cases without their permission.

One woman said on Nov. 4, 1992, a man appeared at her home with a clipboard and asked for donations. The man, she said, forced his way in when she said "no," asked whether she wanted to live and then raped her.

The other woman, who flew from her home in the United Kingdom to Pittsburgh for the hearing, testified that she left her apartment to get change from a local ice cream shop so she could do her laundry.

The man pushed past her into her building, asked her if she wanted to die and then raped her, she said.

Mr. Weinberg asked if she saw the face of her attacker.

"He had chubby cheeks -- that's what I remember of his face," she said. "I said he was a big man because that's how I felt."

Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.



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