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Man guilty of East End rapes

| Saturday, Sept. 18, 2004, 12:00 p.m.

Muffled sobs inside the courtroom turned to loud cheers and clapping in the hallway after an Allegheny County jury on Friday convicted Daniel Wesley on 35 crimes connected to a two-week sexual assault spree in the East End two years ago.

"I just thank God. He deserves everything he gets from this point on," said a 16-year-old girl, the youngest of eight victims who testified against Wesley, 27, of Homewood, during the four-day trial before Common Pleas Judge Gerard M. Bigley.

"He thought it was a game, but you don't play with people's lives like that," said a 22-year-old victim.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review does not identify victims of sexual assault.

A jury of seven men and five women deliberated about 30 minutes before convicting Wesley on charges which included rape, attempted rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, robbery, simple assault, aggravated assault, terroristic threats and witness intimidation.

Wesley sexually assaulted three women and girls and attempted to rape five others during street attacks in Pittsburgh's East End from Sept. 25 to Oct. 10, 2002. Defense attorney Erika P. Kreisman said that Wesley was physically abused as he bounced between foster homes as a child and that he was high on the illegal drug Ecstasy during the crime spree.

"This case is an example of the cycle of violence," Kreisman said later. "Victims of abuse lose compassion."

Wesley claimed his innocence as sheriff's deputies led him away in handcuffs.

"They all lied," said Wesley, who added that he would appeal the ruling. "It's clear. All clear."

Wesley's victims scoffed at his comments.

"I was messed up real bad, but I'm going to move on with this," said the 16-year-old, who was attacked Oct. 4, 2002, as she walked to school in East Liberty. Her mother said she moved her family after Wesley wrote threatening letters and called her at home from jail.

Wesley's attacks -- police said he picked young women off the street at random -- terrified people in the neighborhoods of East Liberty, Garfield and Highland Park.

The rampage ended early on Oct. 10 when Charmaine Dunbar, now 44, a security guard at the University of Pittsburgh and a mother of three, shot him twice in the stomach with a .38-caliber pistol during an attack in Homewood.

Dunbar said Wesley deserves whatever jail time he gets because he hurt some "real sweet young ladies."

"I wish he had come for me first, and I could have stopped him before he got to them," Dunbar said.

While he was hospitalized for the shooting, Wesley admitted to all of the attacks, Pittsburgh police homicide Detective Dennis Logan testified. After Wesley's arrest, DNA tests linked him to several of the rapes, police said. Wesley did not testify at the trial.

Bigley scheduled sentencing for Wesley on Nov. 22.

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