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Guilty verdict returned in brutal East Side rape

A man who attacked a woman who was walking home on an East Side street was found guilty of predatory sexual assault and attempted rape in the first degree.

A State Supreme Court jury returned its verdict against Willie Sanders on Wednesday after about three hours of deliberations.

Sanders, 58, assaulted the woman on Aug. 22, 2014 when she was on Adams Street, walking home from a friend's apartment. When Sanders confronted the woman, he punched her in the face several times before dragging her to a set of small bleachers behind a vacant school building. He then raped the woman.

The woman eventually was able to bribe Sanders into letting her go, but she left behind her shoes, cell phone and other personal items. She was treated at a hospital for broken bones and bruises on her face.

The woman did not know her attacker, but an investigation by Buffalo Police Detective Adam Stephany eventually identified Sanders as the assailant, who was then located by Officer Tommy Champion.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Ryan Haggerty and Bethany Solek.

Justice Russell P. Buscaglia set sentencing for Dec. 1.

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