Modified: December 8, 2016 12:21pm
Acting District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty, Jr., announced that Willie Sanders, 58, of Buffalo, was sentenced to 22 years to life in prison by Justice Russell P. Buscaglia, following his conviction on one count of Predatory Sexual Assault and one count of Attempted Rape in the First Degree. An Erie County Jury needed less than two hours to convict Sanders for his August 23, 2014, sexual assault of a Buffalo woman.
Sanders spotted the woman walking home in Willert Park and began following her. When she passed a shuttered elementary school yard, Sanders grabbed her, beating her repeatedly in the face and dragging her behind a set of bleachers. He then brandished a knife, and forced her to perform a series of sexual acts. The woman was able to escape when she offered him her purse. She went to the hospital where she was treated for sexual assault, a fractured facial bone, and a facial laceration.
DA Flaherty praised the work of Detective Adam Stephany who investigated the case: “The defendant was a stranger to the survivor. Detective Stephany had to start from scratch to develop the identity of this predator. Once the defendant was identified, Detective Stephany conducted a thorough and methodical investigation and interview of the defendant that resulted in several critical admissions. Detective Stephany proved that the key to effective interviews is using preparation, patience, and skill, not Hollywood tough-guy techniques.”
DA Flaherty went on to praise the courage of the survivor: “Once again I find myself in awe of the strength and courage of the survivors of sexual violence. This survivor found the strength to survive a vicious and brutal attack, and then she found the courage to walk into courtroom, confront her attacker, and hold him accountable for his crime. Just as I am inspired by the courage of the survivor, I am also encouraged by the dedication of the jury, twelve citizens of Erie County who carefully weighed the evidence, followed the law and rendered a just and fair verdict. This defendant chose to ignore the fundamental dignity and humanity of his victim, our fellow citizen.”
Assistant District Attorneys Ryan D. Haggerty and Bethany A. Solek from DA Flaherty’s Special Victims Bureau prosecuted the case.