Man guilty of raping 3 in Ross, Hopewell

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The three women sat in the front row of the courtroom directly behind their advocate. They held hands and comforted each other through closing arguments and as they waited for the verdict Monday.

Then they cried together as the forewoman announced Arthur Henderson guilty on all of the rape counts against him.

He will be sentenced by Allegheny County Common Pleas President Judge Donna Jo McDaniel on March 26.

He is expected to get several decades in prison.

Deputy District Attorney Laura Ditka commended the women who testified against Henderson, who represented himself at his five-day trial.

"These women did an outstanding job," she said. "Testifying to the person that assaulted you is so traumatic. They deserve all the credit, as do the police."

Ms. Ditka applauded the women for keeping their cool when they testified under cross-examination by Henderson.

"It was extraordinarily troubling for them. They all reacted visibly," she said.

Henderson was accused of attacking three women from Jan. 7-9, 2012, in Hopewell and Ross.

Investigators in those communities -- as well as from Ohio Township where there was a mugging early in the morning Jan. 10 -- were able to trace the crimes to Henderson using video footage of a vehicle matching his following the first rape victim home from the Rivers Casino; witness identification at the Woodhawk Club apartments in Ross, as well as his DNA being found on each of the victims.

Before adjourning court, Judge McDaniel said, "This really was extraordinary police work, and I think the record should reflect that."

Before being removed from the courtroom, Henderson asked, "Your honor, may I say something?"

"No," she answered.

Henderson told the jury during his closing argument Monday that there was "not one piece of physical evidence" against him.

"All they did was make allegations and accusations against me," he said.

During an hourlong closing argument that prompted a number of objections by Ms. Ditka, the defendant told the jury that there was a conspiracy against him.

"They haven't proved one single thing but a bunch of lies, misstatements and withholdings," Henderson said. "That's not detective work.

"That's framework."

He told the jury it would have been impossible for him to get from Hopewell, where the first victim was attacked about 7:45 a.m. Jan. 7, to Ross by 9 a.m., when the second woman was assaulted.

"How am I in Woodhawk Apartments at 9 a.m.? How?" Henderson asked, his voice raised. "It don't make sense. It don't add up. You know why? Because it didn't happen that morning because I didn't rape them. That's why. Even a blind man could see it. I'm being set up."

During his closing, which rambled at times, Henderson questioned why the attacker would go to such lengths to hide his identity -- wearing a mask and gloves and dark clothing -- but leave his DNA with each victim.

"Are you kidding me?" he said. "It's a mockery."

Although Henderson was instructed by the judge that he was not permitted to argue the women consented to sexual acts with him, he skirted the issue.

"My DNA is not a crime. My DNA is not illegal," he said. "My DNA is not proof of anything but that we had sex."

Ms. Ditka scoffed at Henderson's argument, noting the women had been bound with duct tape when they were attacked. The third victim, at the Cascade Apartments complex in Ross, was raped in her 4-month-old daughter's nursery while the baby screamed and her fiance was tied up in the master bedroom.

Forensic scientists testified during the trial that the chances that the DNA found on the victims belonged to someone matching Henderson's profile would be between 1 in 1 quintillion and 1 in 8 quintillion.

"Don't be confused by the sometimes circuslike presentation of the defendant," Ms. Ditka said. "The testimony of a victim alone is enough to convict."

But, she continued, the commonwealth went much further than the burden required by the law of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

"You have [guilt] beyond all doubt. You have beyond a quintillion of doubt," she said.

The jury then found Henderson not guilty on the counts related to the mugging and beating of a man with whom he played poker.

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


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