Suspect in Ross rapes cross-examines victims at trial


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On Jan. 7, 2012, the woman had just returned to her Hopewell home after a night of celebrating her 50th birthday. As she made her way to her bedroom, she heard a noise on the landing of her townhouse.

A masked man stood pointing a gun at her, with his finger to his mouth, shushing her.

After demanding money and forcing her to undress, he raped her on her bed, with his gun placed just inches away from her face.

On Tuesday, the woman was questioned by the man prosecutors say raped her as he represented himself in the first day of his trial on charges he attacked three different women over two days. He asked repeatedly if she was afraid that day. He asked if she was hurt. He asked if she cried.

Allegheny County Deputy District Attorney Laura Ditka told the jury during her opening statement that rapes by strangers are rare, and serial stranger rapes even moreso.

That's what made the series of attacks so scary last year, she said.

"In January of last year, there was evil around the bend. Wickedness had come," Ms. Ditka said. "That wickedness was Arthur Henderson."

Ms. Ditka told the jurors that over the next few days they would hear from "five different victims whose lives were completely shattered by the selfish, despicable acts of Arthur Henderson."

The victims include the three women, the fiance of one of those women who was bound and in an adjoining bedroom while the assault occurred, and an acquaintance of Henderson, who was robbed by him.

In the case of the first victim, Ms. Ditka said that Henderson, 39, followed her home from the Rivers Casino after her night of celebrating her birthday.

Surveillance cameras from the casino showed Henderson's blue Ford Expedition following the woman's car, Ms. Ditka said during her opening statement.

The first witness, a nurse, said when she saw the rapist's gun near her head, "I kept thinking I could grab it. I could grab it, but I didn't know what to do with it."

Afterward, the woman was taken to Sewickley Hospital, where a rape kit was performed.

Ms. Ditka said that Henderson's DNA matches that removed from the victims.

After the woman had completed her direct examination, Henderson, who was required by Allegheny County Common Pleas President Judge Donna Jo McDaniel to remain seated, began his cross-examination.

What started out as him referring to the attacker in the third person as he questioned the first victim quickly shifted to first person in the questions with the second woman who testified.

He repeatedly asked both women if they had been scared.

Later, Henderson asked the woman if she was hurt in any way.

"How can I describe this? Having a gun pointed to your head. How can I describe that? It's painful."

Then he asked, "Were you comfortable having sex in that way?"

"No," she answered.

"Were you crying?" he continued.

"Yes."

When the second woman testified, her demeanor was opposite from the first. She spoke with little animation -- strong, but matter of fact.

Just about an hour after the attack in Hopewell, police said Henderson made his way to Woodhawk Club apartments in Ross.

The second victim first encountered the man wearing a black ski mask as she left her apartment about 9 a.m. to take her dog and a friend's for a walk.

The woman said she then saw the man about 15 minutes later. Before she could get the door closed, the man was forcing his way in.

"In his right hand, he had a pistol. He pushed it in, pointed it at my stomach, and I immediately backed up into my apartment," she testified.

At first, her attacker demanded money, and told her to lock the dogs up. He ordered her to undress and raped her.

On cross-examination, Henderson asked the woman to recount the details of the attack again.

"I saw you, said good morning, my dogs jumped on you, and I went on my way."

"Were you scared?" Henderson asked.

"Yes."

"Did you do everything I told you to do?"

"Yes, I did," the woman answered.

mobilehome - neigh_north

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.


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