Man found guilty of attempting to rape owner of dry cleaner; victim feared for her life, fought off her attacker

June 21

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced that a jury Wednesday afternoon found a Joliet man guilty of attempting to sexually assault the owner of a downtown Joliet dry cleaner while brandishing a box cutter.

Dale Allen Yost, 36, attempted to drag the 56-year-old proprietor into the back room of Rialto Cleaners, where hanging clothes would have hidden them from view.

The victim testified during the two-day trial that she grabbed an iron pole that supports the store’s dry-cleaning racks and clung to it for her life to prevent her assailant from dragging her out of view during the July 27, 2005 attack. She told the jury she had recently watched an episode of “Oprah” about fighting back against crime, and she feared she wouldn’t survive the attack if Yost forced her into the back room.

The woman, a Korean immigrant who ran two dry-cleaning businesses with her husband, was working alone that day because a family member was out of the country. She testified that Yost entered the store, walked in back of the counter and surprised her from behind while he wielded a box cutter.

“This deviant sexual predator thought he was attacking a woman who was defenseless,” Glasgow said. “But she surprised her cowardly assailant and held him off by giving him the fight of her life. And now he’s going to spend a good part of his life in prison.”

The victim suffered a shoulder injury during the attack that required multiple surgeries.

In addition to attempted criminal sexual assault, Yost was charged with armed robbery in connection with this attack. He pleaded guilty to the robbery charge on Monday but chose to go to trial on the attempted sexual assault charge.

He faces up to 90 years in prison when he is sentenced by Circuit Judge Daniel Rozak on both charges on Sept. 5.

A codefendant, Steven J. Partida, 20, of Joliet, is awaiting trial on charges of armed robbery and burglary in connection with this case.

Prosecutors James Long and John Connor presented the state’s case, which included a videotaped statement from Yost in which he admitted to committing the armed robbery but denied attempting to sexually assault the victim.

Yost had been released from a state prison in March 2005, four months before this attack. He had finished serving a 14-year sentence for an aggravated criminal sexual assault that occurred in Tazewell County.