A physician who fled his Pennsylvania home and practice more than a year ago after being charged with nine counts each of rape and indecent assault was arrested in Iran this weekend by Iranian authorities.

Reza Rasti, 44, an Iranian national, was a gynecologist in Fayette City, Pa., when several women of various ages, all patients of his, came forward to charge him with raping them during physical examinations. He later jumped bail and the FBI issued a warrant for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

U.S. officials were informed earlier this week that Rasti was in custody in Tehran.

It is unclear whether the Iranians will hand over Rasti to American officials.

Fairfax County secretary Jan Davis, 28, who says she was raped by Rasti during a routine 1985 checkup in her home town of Fayette City, has been obsessed ever since with finding him. She waged an extensive letter-writing campaign requesting help in her plight from, among others, First Lady Nancy Reagan, Attorney General Edwin Meese and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.). Her story has been featured in newspapers, including The Washington Post, and on national television programs.

When Allegheny County Assistant District Attorney John Zottola called her yesterday morning with news of Rasti's Jan. 16 arrest in Iran, she said she didn't realize at first what was happening.

"He said, 'We found him,' " Davis recalls. "I said, 'Found who?' I wasn't even on the same track."

Davis said her father learned of the arrest on television and one of Rasti's alleged rape victims called Davis' mother in tears to share the news.

"I'm still not done with it," Davis, a secretary at an aerospace firm, said yesterday. "I don't know what's going to happen, what's the next step."

And neither do the authorities. Wayne Gilbert, special agent in charge of the Pittsburgh FBI office, said that it was through Interpol, the international police agency based in France, that "we were able to get the word out that {Rasti} was wanted." But his apprehension by Iranian officials was unexpected, according to Justice Department officials.

"The FBI went to Interpol and Interpol made the request, and much to our surprise he was arrested," said Justice Department spokesman John Russell. "The Iranian authorities are asking us for information. We don't know if they're asking us for information to kick him out or to try him over there."

Russell also said, "We're talking with the State Department right now, but we don't have an extradition treaty with Iran and we don't have diplomatic relations with Iran so I don't know what we're going to do."

Meanwhile, Davis spoke with both caution and relief.

"This is a good steppingstone," she said, "but we came close to catching him in Nottingham {England} but we didn't." In the time since he fled Pennsylvania, leads indicated Rasti may have been in such disparate settings as Morgantown, W.Va., and Nottingham.

Davis also says she never gave up hope that Rasti would be found. "Not as long as my fingers could type," she said, laughing, in a reference to her zealous letter-writing campaign. "At least I felt I was doing something."

Davis said she has not spoken to any of the other alleged victims since Rasti was apprehended. "They don't like me too much," she said, "because I won't let it die."