Features: He Said, They Said

How could two juries find Jeffrey J. Marsalis more believable than the 10 women who accused him of rape?

LIKE THE REST of them — like the other attractive, successful, well-educated young women who authorities believe were drugged and raped by Jeffrey J. Marsalis — Rachael says her memory began fracturing at the bar, several hours into the night. Until then, on a weeknight in late March 2004, the conversation had flowed well as she and Marsalis hopped from one Center City Irish pub to another, drinking beer and wine, though Rachael, herself a natural talker, was surprised to find a date more voluble than she. He’d spoken so far of growing up outside Seattle, and of his mother, an educator whom he said President George H.W. Bush had given a position with the U.S. Department of Education. And though it wasn’t like her, Rachael had even found herself fighting back tears as he relived a particularly wrenching experience from the ER at Hahnemann Hospital, when he’d been forced to inform an elderly woman choppered in from a horrific car crash and fighting to live that, in fact, she would not. Perhaps, Rachael had told herself, all this would come with the territory: Trauma surgeons — let alone CIA agents and astronauts — are presupposed to be, and even forgiven for being, self-interested.

Earlier, around sunset, they’d hugged upon greeting each other for the first time in three-dimension, at Love Park, their predetermined meeting place. Six-foot-two, dark-haired and handsome, wearing a white button-down and khakis, he was as attractive as she’d found him in the dozen-plus photos on his Match.com profile, photos that would seem to corroborate the remarkable professional arc he’d claim to her and the others, from suit and tie to scrubs and white coat to orange astronaut jumpsuit and helmet; in reality, he was a nursing-school dropout. He’d contacted her on Match.com the previous weekend; their first phone conversation, which lasted a couple hours, quickly turned intensely sexual, something she did not protest.

Originally from upstate New York, Rachael, then 23, had recently moved here after graduating from Penn State with a degree in psychology, to earn her master’s in counseling from Villanova. Attractive and petite, with thick sandy hair and green eyes, she’d joined the popular dating website a few months earlier because she felt isolated. She was “flattered,” she says, when she first received the cyber “wink” from then-30-year-old DrJeff (his name on his profile). Now, three glasses of wine later, she sat slumped against the wall on the floor of a handicapped stall in the ladies’ room at the pub Fadó, on Locust Street.

“It was like I was there but I wasn’t,” as if she was “floating, my ears felt like they were full of cotton.” Like several other women I would speak with, she describes herself, at that moment, as devoid of thought: “It was just almost like I was dreaming but I was awake.” Then Marsalis appeared, peering over the stall’s door. He ordered her to stand up, to get herself together. “We have to leave,” she says he told her angrily. “Try to walk. And act like you’re sober.” She asked for her purse: “All I kept thinking about was my purse.” They headed out into the night. Her purse in hand, her head slumped, she fixated on the seams in the pavement, which blurred before disappearing completely.

Scientists believe that memory — the process of memory-­making, and of its retrieval — involves wide and disparate parts of the brain. Trillions of microscopic cells fire at once, sharing information across infinitesimally small gaps between them, working together spontaneously, constantly, to create and filter and store and reassemble sensory impressions into cogency. Lasting memories form when perception moves from short-term repositories to long-term, by way of the hippocampus, an irregularly shaped structure buried deep in the forebrain. Alcohol and drugs can disrupt this progression, can impair the movement of information between cells — can, in effect, erase our memories, or, more precisely, usurp the process as it’s occurring, like a photographer snapping pictures on a camera without film. This, we call blackout.

She was in his bed now, vomiting into a bowl. He chastised her: I take you out, I buy you drinks! “I couldn’t internalize that he was yelling at me,” she says. “I had no fear, I had no emotion.” She may or may not have vomited on her clothes. In a scrub top, in his bed, “All I wanted to do was sleep.” And here, she stopped remembering.

Until his hands were on her skin. She opened her eyes to the dark.

She hadn’t consented, she says, but someplace not fully conscious, her mind began rationalizing: “I don’t like this, but I’m so tired, and he’s not, like, raping me.” She fell in and out of sleep. “I was so tired.” He slipped his finger inside her. “I wanted him to stop.” And then he was on top of her. “That’s when I knew he was having sex with me, and then I got scared, and that’s when I pretty much woke up completely. But I wasn’t able to physically do anything. I couldn’t move my body, he was holding me down.” His grunts were soft; he did not speak. His chest was positioned above her head; he did not look her in the face. “There was the night light of the city coming into his bedroom. I kept telling him to stop. I said No. I was freaking out inside.” Once again, memories stopped forming; her mind went black. …

She woke again. It was dark, quiet: She was in his apartment, he was asleep beside her, naked, still but for his breathing. Slowly, quietly, she lifted her body from his bed. Found her way through the strange room to a small, dark bathroom. She left the lights off, door open. There was a window beside the toilet. She went to it, looked out onto the city far below. She focused on the GlaxoSmithKline building at Race and 16th. She fell apart.

Standing in the dark bathroom in her bra and panties, her hand to her mouth, she sobbed. Strange noises came from her, grief unfurling from someplace inside her. And yet, at the same time, her mind was racing. It determined, almost independent of herself, that she must immediately get beyond what had happened. She reasoned that he hadn’t threatened her life, hadn’t borne a knife or a gun. The city was an unfamiliar place. If she left now, where would she go? What would she do? Most of all, she became instantaneously determined that she would not suffer from this — she would avoid the post-traumatic stress she’d seen firsthand as she studied to become a counselor. She would accomplish this by ignoring, by attempting to discard, the few distinct images that had managed, somehow, to make inroads deep in her mind, into memory.

Her naked feet trod back across the tile. In his bedroom, she pulled back the covers, slid back in bed with him, beside him. …

In the morning, she awoke once again, finally, fully, if groggily, to sunlight: a bedroom painted white, Ikea furniture, a bookshelf full of medical texts, blue-striped Nautica-brand sheets. And to his face. His green eyes stared across the pillow at hers. He smiled.

He moved his naked body toward her, pulled her closer to him, tucked his body into hers. Once again, his hands crept over her. This time, she says, she let him inside her willingly.

Unprotected, once again, he climaxed. They lay there, side by side. As the room filled with morning light, they talked, enjoyed each other’s company. They had sex again. Again he finished inside her. At last, well into the afternoon, they got up and dressed, she in the same clothes from last night, he in a fresh pair of scrubs.

He told her he’d like to see her again, and how much he’d enjoyed her. To the man she was sure a few hours ago had raped her, the man with whom she was about to embark on a three-month relationship, she said Me too.

How, I asked Rachael one day last summer, how could she do it? “I don’t know,” she said, looking me in the eyes. “He had taken away my power. I guess it was an attempt on my part to regain some of the power I’d lost. But honestly, I don’t really know why.”

TWO YEARS WOULD PASS before Rachael*, contacted by authorities, would tell the story of that night. Despite the fact that they determined her allegations to be credible, her story wasn’t one of those presented during Jeffrey Marsalis’s second rape trial last June, which ended, after nearly four weeks of testimony, with him convicted of just two counts of sexual assault. He was acquitted of raping six of the seven alleged victims in the case (the jury hanged on a single rape charge) as well as impersonating a public servant, for allegedly convincing several women that he was a CIA assassin who spent time in caves in Afghanistan following September 11th and carried a CIA-issued pistol he’d nicknamed Priscilla and talked to in an Elvis voice. Instead, Rachael is one of a staggering number of Philadelphia-area women whom authorities believe Marsalis assaulted but whose alleged rapes he’s yet to be formally charged with, and probably never will be. The reason is contained within Rachael’s story: Many of the women — almost all of whom didn’t come forward on their own, but instead were contacted by authorities — had reengaged Marsalis after the fact or otherwise behaved toward him in ways that seem counterintuitive, badly damaging their credibility.

An investigator from the case puts the number of women identified by authorities as viable victims at 30. If true, this would make Marsalis not only the most prolific serial rapist in Pennsylvania history, but among the worst in the annals of American crime. Still, it’s a figure hundreds lower than the number he met on Match.com while living in Philadelphia: Authorities say a doorman at the Metropolitan who worked the weekend overnight shift told them he’d seen Marsalis return home with around 100 different women over the few years he lived there; a former next-door neighbor told me Marsalis said he had sex with well over a hundred women annually; and the bartender at Tir Na Nog told investigators Marsalis often came in with several different women over the course of a weekend. The law enforcement source believes the actual number of victims is “way, way higher” than 30, potentially country-wide, as Marsalis, the son of wealthy, divorced parents from the West Coast, hopscotched from one college to another during a slacker migration eastward, ultimately landing at Drexel University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree for paramedics before immediately reenrolling, briefly, in the nursing school. “I’m sure this guy has done this wherever he’s been,” the source says.

Twice the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has put Marsalis on trial, alleging the rape of a total of 10 women, all of them college-educated, sophisticated, successful, good-looking and white. Twice a Philadelphia jury has heard the same scenario repeated — the women blacked out at some point during their dates, and either woke up incapacitated to Marsalis assaulting them or in the morning, naked — and decided that in every case, the women hadn’t been raped. For all but two of the women, the jurors believed that in fact no assault whatsoever took place: in effect, that the eight others fabricated their stories, and that Marsalis — who, his own defense team conceded, concocted fantastic lies and adopted fake personas — was more believable. If the authorities are correct, if Marsalis is so depraved, how could two juries — 24 people — in two separate trials have believed him over so many accusers?

EVEN AFTER HE’D officially dropped out of Drexel’s nursing program, Jeffrey Marsalis routinely left his apartment at all hours of the day and night dressed in scrubs and a white coat. At Drexel’s Hahnemann Hospital, he breezed past security and roamed the halls freely, going in and out of labs and supply closets (using the access codes he’d been granted as a nursing student), meeting dates in the hospital’s cafeteria, taking them on private tours of the fully staffed ER as well as the morgue, where he reportedly invited some to have sex among the cadavers.

During the same time period in which Marsalis is alleged to have assaulted the women he’d met on Match.com, he was dating many more he met online, plus maintaining a three-year relationship, with a brief engagement, with Jessika Rovell, a former Miss Laurel Valley who competed in the Miss New Jersey Pageant and later became a Philadelphia litigator and an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserves.

It was the image of Marsalis the doctor that Maddie, a 23-year-old pharmacologist from suburban Philadelphia with Mediterranean features, saw on Match.com one day in 2005, an image that was central to his wild success in meeting women, and to some extent in explaining away his obvious eccentricities. Maddie found photos of Marsalis in full scrubs and mask in the midst of surgery (they weren’t of him) as well as another, grainier image of him in an astronaut group picture (once again not of him, though he regularly told his girlfriends he was away at astronaut training in Houston). Though many of the women described his personality, when they met him, as “intense,” all believed his initial claims about himself. Of his personality, one accuser told me: “You want — you expect — your trauma surgeon to be arrogant.”

Maddie, a virgin who’d emigrated to the U.S. from Greece with her parents several years earlier, and still lived with them outside the city, had gone on two dates with Marsalis; both were unremarkable and did not include sex, she says. Maddie claims, however, that on their third date, in 2005, after having champagne at his apartment and drinks at two downtown bars, she abruptly blacked out. She says she awoke to him raping her in his bed. Several weeks later, she went to police. Thus began an extraordinary turn of events.

Detectives investigating her claim presented a search warrant for Marsalis’s apartment to the property manager at the Left Bank lofts, along the Schuylkill River, where he’d recently moved. As the property manager — a young, attractive woman named Amy — read the warrant, her face suddenly changed.

Amy would become the second of three accusers in the Commonwealth’s first case against Marsalis. She claimed she’d also met him on Match.com, and that after their first date she, too, woke up groggy the next morning in his bed. The realization that she had been assaulted, she told police, did not come for some time, and she’d embarked on a relationship with Marsalis. She’d recently helped him secure his new apartment in the Left Bank building — on the same floor as the apartment where she lived with her young child.

Inside his apartment, the police found some medications he kept in his paramedic bag, his scrubs, his legally obtained gun, and a wealth of information on his computer, which featured the CIA logo as desktop wallpaper. On his computer hard drive, authorities found  some of his doctored photos as well as a list of approximately 50 women in chronological order — the first name given for each — in a file called “The Yearly Calendar of Women.”

It was on that list that authorities found Julie, a lawyer who would become the third accuser in Marsalis’s first trial. She offered an eerily similar story: Out drinking with him, she blacked out and woke to him raping her, only to black out again, then awaken the next morning confused. She, too, had nevertheless forged a relationship with Marsalis after the fact.

Marsalis’s first trial, in January 2006, lasted one week. The prosecution’s case was consistent, but also problematic, as two of the three victims — Amy and Julie — hadn’t come forward on their own, and admitted on the stand to the complicated emotional and sexual relationships they’d shared with Marsalis. At least as damaging was the testimony of Maddie, whose story Marsalis’s attorney, Kevin Hexstall, methodically tore apart, revealing that between their second and final dates, Marsalis told her outright he’d not date a woman opposed to premarital sex. She replied by broaching engagement, and telling him she loved him.

It took the jury two and a half days to decide: not guilty on every count.

Before Marsalis left the courtroom, however, sheriff’s officers whisked him from the defense table, rearresting him. There were more rape charges to come.

THIS TIME, AUTHORITIES could be choosy, singling out the accusers whose stories seemed most airtight, those uncomplicated by long-term relationships with Marsalis after the fact. Still, these alleged victims’ stories weren’t without their issues, foremost among them that only one accuser — Sarah — came forward of her own volition, and only after hearing about Marsalis’s arrest on the evening news; investigators had contacted the rest.

The women — a nurse, a law student, pharmaceutical and medical saleswomen, an accountant — all told a variation of essentially the same story: They blacked out at some point in the night, and woke up either during the alleged assault or the next morning, naked. Several told others they’d been raped, but none went to the hospital or to authorities.

Marsalis was charged with raping two women twice. Annie, a student, lived in the Metropolitan, and was the only accuser he didn’t meet on Match.com. She said they’d met at the building’s mailboxes, and went out to Fadó for drinks one night in October 2003. She blacked out, and later woke naked in his bed. Though she suspected she’d been assaulted, she wasn’t sure, and stayed friendly with Marsalis. Several months later, Annie contacted him when she was hospitalized for iron and other deficiencies; after her release, Marsalis visited the slight, 95-pound woman. She claims that as he was adjusting her covers, he held her down and raped her again.

Another accuser told the jury she spent a weekend with Marsalis, after he allegedly brought her back to his apartment incapacitated, then pulled out her tampon, threw it across the room, and anally and vaginally raped her; in the morning she awoke ashamed at the blood in the bed, and she later FedExed him a new pair of sheets. Another claimed that when she awoke to Marsalis raping her, she was on top of him. Still another went to lunch with him the next day and claimed her memory from their date was so sparse that she hadn’t realized she’d been raped until the authorities contacted her later.

And there was Katie, a petite 26-year-old pharmaceutical rep who’d joined Match.com reluctantly, at the insistence of her sister, who’d met her future husband on the site. Katie and Marsalis met at a wine bar in Bethlehem, where she lived; she says she had two glasses of wine over the course of the evening in February 2004. Though she says she realized early on she wasn’t interested in him, she agreed when he insisted that he come over to her house for one more glass of wine before his long drive back to the city. He followed her in his aqua Ford Escort to her condo, where she retreated to the bathroom while he opened the bottle. They sat together on the couch. She had a few sips of wine. The next thing she remembers is being in her bed, with him on top of her.

“I was just really out of it. Nothing like that had ever happened to me, ever,” she says. “I didn’t know what to think.” Over the next day, she became certain she’d been raped. She considered calling the police, but “I was scared. I was in Bethlehem, I didn’t have any family there. I was very naive. I was really vulnerable.” She confided in two friends, she said, who urged her to go to the police. But by then, she says, she just didn’t know what to do.

Twelve days after her date with Marsalis, Katie went to the hospital for a scheduled orthopedic surgery. The anesthesiologist informed her the surgery couldn’t go on: She was pregnant. She broke down. “I was so humiliated,” she says. “I just said, ‘I’m not pregnant, I’m not pregnant.’” The surgeon ultimately did operate.

Katie called Marsalis. “I’m pregnant,” she says she told him. “You raped me.” She says she told him she was going to the police, and that he told her he wouldn’t pay child support. He told her that as a physician, he knew she was clinically insane. She hung up on him.

“And I was lying there, with this cast on my foot, and I couldn’t go outside, it was icy out, and I was on crutches, lying there thinking about what’s going on inside of me, and how badly I didn’t want that. But I was raised Catholic, my dad was adopted, he was given up by a woman who did not want an abortion. I didn’t want my family or anyone to know.”

She was unable to work because of the surgery she’d just had. When Marsalis called her back, she told him he would have to pay for the expensive shot she’d decided on — she’d learned of a medication that induces miscarriage — or she’d go to police. He agreed, she said, but only if he went with her. She refused. He was adamant. She relented.

Several weeks later — she’d had to wait for the fetus to develop further before the medication would work — Marsalis showed up in scrubs and a military-style bomber jacket with “Dr. Jeffrey J. Marsalis, Flight Surgeon” printed across his left breast. She met him on the front steps. She drove. He was outgoing and warm, she says. She felt nauseated and barely spoke.

At the clinic, he stayed in the waiting room while she received the shot. Still on crutches, she hobbled back to the waiting room, where Marsalis told her he’d only pay half. She pulled out her debit card, said nothing. On the ride home, she was silent. He was, once again, kind and caring. He informed her that the medication she’d just received was a chemotherapy agent “we use in the hospital.” It would be two years before authorities contacted her about Marsalis. “You know,” she says he told her in her car, “it’s pretty cool that you’re carrying something of me inside you.”

Several days later, Katie was sitting on the couch when she felt a violent sensation in her abdomen. She rushed to the bathroom. Scared and crying, she miscarried in the toilet.

She wasn’t the only one from Match.com to become pregnant by Marsalis. According to court documents, another woman who hasn’t accused him of raping her — a four-foot-11-inch disabled woman from Northeast Philadelphia — gave birth in 2005, despite his fierce protestations, to a child, whom he’s never met.

IN HIS CLOSING argument, Marsalis’s attorney, Kevin Hexstall, put the credibility of Marsalis’s many victims on trial. In language that clearly pandered to the primarily African-American jury, Hexstall, who is black, told the jurors the women “wanted to get down” with “Dr. Jeff.” “This is how she gets down,” he said, and added that the jurors “know how this goes down.” He called one accuser a “Match.com veteran. She’s been on Match.com seven years. This is her hustle. She does Match.com.”

Hexstall conceded that his client had told tall tales, that he might even seem unlikeable. But, he told the jurors, “He’s not a rapist. He’s a playboy. Everybody knows him, he might have taken it a little further with the stethoscope than you might expect. But he’s just a playboy.”

He said that Marsalis had been punished enough for the sins of his embellishment. He called the women liars. “You need to stop saying that a criminal courtroom is the forum for a woman who regrets having sex with you and who is upset because you lied about your profession,” he told the jury. “Throw a brick through his car window, slash his tires, get online and tell the rest of the world he’s a liar, not a doctor. But you don’t come up with this kind of nonsense and play with this man’s life.”

And it was that argument, apparently, that won the day with the jury of 12.

There were nine blacks and three whites; six of the blacks were women, as were two of the whites. From the start, the racial composition didn’t bode well for the prosecution. “The jury was a catch-22, because black women tend not to be sympathetic to white women, but also tend to be really unsympathetic to white men; the dicey part of the jury was the black women,” says a city D.A. who didn’t participate in the prosecution but has knowledge of the case. The prosecutor “was lucky to get the three whites he did,” with the jury pool in Philadelphia so heavily African-American. “Philadelphia juries are notorious for being horrible in sex cases” for the prosecution, the D.A. says.

According to the African-American juror I interviewed — the first and only juror to have spoken publicly, who would come forward only on the condition of anonymity — all was amicable in the first moments of deliberation. Until, he said, it was time to pick a foreperson, a position one of the middle-aged white women desperately wanted. The majority of the jury instead wanted an outspoken African-American man, and the juror said the woman reacted bitterly: “She was going to make our job rough, hard.” The jury took an initial poll. It was 11 to one to acquit on all charges, according to the juror; the lone holdout was the would-be forewoman. She would dig her heels in for five days.

They began going through each woman’s story. Virtually all of them could not get beyond the women engaging Marsalis after the fact. The women, to the jurors, were “sour grapes”; they’d been led on by the investigators who contacted them, trolling for victims. “He was a playboy,” the juror said, co-opting Hexstall’s language. “Men sit there and just — hey, if you believe he’s an astronaut, that’s on you. We didn’t think he was guilty because he said he was an astronaut to a person. And, you know, the CIA stuff? I mean, come on, you never know who works for the CIA, so we didn’t believe that, either.”

As the jury worked its way through the stories, with everyone voting not guilty, the lone holdout would vote guilty. “She would go back into saying, ‘All the women were saying the same thing. They wouldn’t do this, they wouldn’t spend the whole night with a person, if they weren’t drugged,’ and she just thought like he really put something in their drinks. But we couldn’t try a person on something that they never presented to us.”

Over the deliberations, as it became clear that the lone holdout wouldn’t bend, the jury began lending some credibility to Annie, but only to her second alleged assault, when she was ill and said Marsalis came to her apartment to tuck her in and then attacked her. It apparently took time for the jurors to reach unanimity on the sexual assault charge. “It was a half-and-half situation, because some people felt like she just got out the hospital, she was ill, she was weak, and then some of us just thought like, hey, we never know what the situation was — she probably was coming on to him, or both the same.” The juror remained dubious of her claim, but went along with the majority, because “they were arguing over the situation, and we would have been deadlocked and everything.”

As to the jurors’ second count of sexual assault, against Sarah — who’d claimed Marsalis raped her after she lost her memory while the two were sitting on his couch talking and kissing — the juror claimed, alarmingly, that not all of them had actually signed off on it. The court staff believed the jurors had reached their verdict, and brought them back into the courtroom prematurely. “We weren’t ready to give the verdict at all, so that was rushed on us,” he told me. The juror, in fact, says he had no intention of convicting Marsalis on that charge and regretted that it had been railroaded through: “To me, that one was snuck in.”

the women I spoke with, I posed the question, the one that had undone them: Why? Why had so many of them reengaged Marsalis? Why, in the face of powerful evidence, even with their wounded memories, even with his elaborate set of props and costumes, why had they ignored their guts, and chosen to believe him over themselves?

Their answers all begin at the same place, at not knowing.

In this, apparently, they are not unique. There is voluminous psychoanalytic literature that corroborates the seemingly strange behavior of sexual assault victims, who often act in counterintuitive ways, blaming themselves, showing inappropriate emotions such as laughing about an assault, even reengaging their attackers, in hopes of legitimizing or ignoring what has happened. Pennsylvania law, however, forbids prosecutors from calling experts who could attest to this, leaving it to jurors to determine how victims ought to react. It is the only state in the nation to expressly preclude such testimony.

Still, if she could do it all over again, Katie tells me, she wouldn’t have contacted Marsalis after the fact, certainly wouldn’t have involved him in her pregnancy. “But,” she says, “there was a certain part of me that felt like I needed to regain my control, which I don’t think you could understand, because you have to have everything taken away first. It’s hard to say now, but back then I felt like I could have cared less if I lived or died. I can understand wondering why from a perspective of not being in the situation. When I heard about some of the stuff the other girls said or did, I realized, nobody will understand, they don’t understand this guy, they don’t know what it’s like to have this happen to you.”

The question of why has fatally snagged two trials in Philadelphia; it has protected — all but insulated — Jeffrey Marsalis from virtually every one of the dozens of charges he’s faced; it has torpedoed the stories of 10 women. And yet, in the case that seems destined to finally undo him completely, it is a question suddenly, conspicuously, absent.

Once again, according to the allegations in court documents, it begins at a bar — this time Whiskey Jacques’, in Ketchum, Idaho. It is late 2005, just 10 days before Marsalis’s first criminal trial in Philadelphia is set to begin; his father has posted his bond, and Marsalis is staying at his mother’s condominium. He’s gotten a job as a security guard at the Sun Valley ski resort, and sitting beside him now is a co-worker, 21-year-old K. He tells her he’s a paramedic. K., wishing to be up-front, informs Marsalis outright that she’s not looking for a boyfriend, that she’s actually gay. He continues ordering drinks; so far, she’s had two beers. He orders her a kamikaze. She turns it up to drink — in the bottom, she notices an undissolved granular substance that looks like sugar but tastes bitter. She goes to the bathroom, comes back to a third beer he has waiting for her. Her memory begins fracturing.

And like all the others, she wakes in his bed in confusion. Except this time, the woman does something different. Later that day, she goes to the police.

Her blood is drawn for date-rape drugs; it is negative, which is not unexpected, given the hours that have passed. The rape kit, however, allegedly connects him to her. There are, what’s more, witnesses from a van-style taxi who told authorities K. appeared to be extremely drunk, that Marsalis essentially carried her out of the van, apologizing, implying she was his girlfriend or wife.

Marsalis, for the first time, agrees to talk to authorities, who are still unaware of the charges he’s facing here. He denies having had intercourse with K.

“If I was, you know, wanted to have sex with, you know, she is more of a manly type of a woman, for one,” he allegedly tells authorities. “I knew she was a lesbian that liked other women, so if I was going to have sex with somebody, wouldn’t I have picked someone who is some drop-dead gorgeous woman? You think?”

He is arrested and charged with drugging and raping K. (His arrest would prove inadmissible in Marsalis’s cases here.) The Idaho trial is expected to begin soon, once he is sentenced in Philadelphia.

Which is to say that should K. be telling the truth, and should a jury believe her, one woman will finally succeed in doing what some 30 others did not. She will have convinced herself, immediately and independent of the influence of anyone else, that the position she awoke to that morning was not of her choosing or consent. She will have convinced herself that she bore no guilt in the matter and had been horribly violated. And she will have convinced herself that the person sleeping beside her, the good-looking, safe-looking man she barely knew, the kindly paramedic from a few hours earlier, was for her at that moment as he lay there one thing and one thing only: the rapist she could not avoid confronting.

*Names of alleged victims have been changed.

Email: dlee@phillymag.com