One by one, each woman stood poised, imploring the judge for the harshest punishment she could impose. It was the sentencing hearing for the man who raped and robbed them, but in many ways on this day it was about the three victims.
Arthur Henderson did more than attack and terrorize them in January 2012, the women told the judge on Tuesday. When he stole their security and their dignity, he also robbed them of their livelihood, their identity and their womanhood.
"I didn't choose to do that. He took that from me," one victim said. "Now I'm dealing with the stench and the residue of Arthur Henderson."
Coming into court Tuesday, the women knew justice had been served -- no matter how many years it would be decided that Henderson should spend in prison. When his verdict was read last month, the three held hands and cried together, a bond that formed from the unimaginable terror they shared.
Judge Donna Jo McDaniel sentenced the 39-year-old Henderson to 61 to 122 years in prison for raping the women at gunpoint in Ross and Hopewell. Judge McDaniel called Henderson a sociopath, a serial rapist, convict, and a danger to the community who has no regard for anyone -- including his own children.
"This is one of the most horrible cases I have ever seen in my life," she said.
In October 2011, three months before she was attacked, one victim was a carefree, spirited newlywed pursuing a master's degree in social work and looking forward to traveling solo on an upcoming trip to visit a friend.
Since the rape, she told the court she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, night terrors, bouts of depression, panic attacks and no self-worth.
"On Jan. 7, 2011, I experienced hell ... I was tortured and imprisoned in my own home -- helpless and alone," she said. "I accepted that I would die that day."
The victim's husband and her mother also spoke to the court about the toll the rape has taken.
The father of another victim, his voice breaking, told Henderson he wasn't fit for society and never would be.
"You are less than a man," he told Henderson.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette does not identify victims of sexual assaults.
In an extreme but not unprecedented move, Henderson acted as his own attorney during the trial. He insinuated the sexual contact with the three women, who he raped over a two-day period, was consensual.
Investigators in Ross and Hopewell -- as well as those from Ohio Township where there was a mugging early in the morning Jan. 10, 2012 -- 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.
A jury found him guilty of the attacks Feb. 11.
Judge McDaniel gave Henderson an opportunity to speak before she delivered his sentence. There was a long pause before he uttered a word.
Henderson asked that the judge treat him fairly and said nobody is perfect. He mentioned how he hopes to join his two children -- a 2-year-old and a 15-year-old -- in society once again.
"I pray for anyone that I might have offended," he said. "I pray that you accept [an] apology. ... Regardless of [the] sentence that you give me today, I have already been judged."
Toward the end of his statement, he said: "I don't know what else to say. This is mind-blowing."
While the victims spoke from the jury box on Tuesday, Henderson never met their eyes and only looked straight ahead. Although his face was not wholly visible to some of those behind him, Deputy District Attorney Laura Ditka said he appeared unmoved and was smirking at times.
"This man, as I said to the court, is pure wickedness," Ms. Ditka said.
As he was escorted out of the courtroom, Henderson shouted something about making a motion for post-sentencing. Judge McDaniel said he will be eligible for appeal.
One victim acknowledged in her statement that she faces a long recovery, but pledged not to be defined by the brutal attack.
"I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt and a friend," one victim said. "I am not a nameless statistic or a piece of your news story."
First Published March 26, 2013 6:45 PM