2009: Jeffrey Marsalis Speaks Publicly for First Time


Marsalis: There is a couple matching the scope of mine. ... But, you know, let's get over the profile. And eventually we're going to see me, as who I am, the character, the person who I am inside. Uh, the caring, the loving, the nurturing, the easygoing, the ... the great guy.

Marsalis pointed to what he called the inconsistencies and credibility issues with his accusers from Philadelphia and with Rovell, his long-term girlfriend, who has accused Marsalis of raping her but initally told authorities that she'd never been raped.

Marsalis said Rovell and many of the other women were upset and wanted attention and revenge for lies he had told.

"Jessika Rovell changed her story many times," Marsalis said. Of her date rape accusation, he said, "I have to almost laugh at that. It's a clear example of the depths that she'll go to just try to demean me, to just try to bash me."

Muir: When you look at the sheer number of women who have come forward with similar stories, can you see why the public would look at that and might have a hard time believing that there might not be at least an ounce of truth there?

Marsalis: I think the public needs to know how it started, and how they were interrogated. I believe these girls were manipulated. They want some sort of retribution because they think maybe they might have been duped. They think maybe that based on this picture that, uh ... that ...

Muir: That you created on the Internet.

Marsalis: ... that the detectives gave them, that they got to be angry. Now, if you're upset, OK. But does that justify you trying to seek retribution on felony criminal charges against me? Bulls***. It's that simple.

Marsalis: 'I Felt Cornered'

Muir: If that's the case, then how do you describe this woman who had no idea that this was even going on back in Philadelphia? This Idaho woman ... And yet, she came forward and said she'd been raped.

Marsalis: You know, I'm still ... tryin' to reflect a, uh, I can't explain it.

But what Marsalis did point to was that Jody, who claimed she told him she was a lesbian the night they went out, had been with men before. In fact, the prosecution never brought up her sexuality at trial.

"So the whole lesbian thing? Gone," Marsalis said.

And for all the women who said they had fallen victim to some sort of date rape drug, there were never any test results that proved that -- not even in the Idaho case.

Muir: Why did you tell police at first that there was no sex [with Jody]?

Marsalis: You know, at that time, I felt cornered. So, I took more of ... a ... a defensive stance...

Muir: A defensive stance, though, is one thing. A lotta people would look at this and say, that's a flat-out lie.

Marsalis: You have to understand that I was intoxicated, too. So there was a lot of gray areas in between. Did we have sex? Well, you know. How did this all happen?

Precisely the question the Idaho jury had to answer. After three-and-a-half years of waiting, Jody -- and all of Marsalis' other alleged victims -- finally had their verdict.

Marsalis was found guilty of rape.

On June 30, 2009, Marsalis was sentenced. The judge was allowed to consider his criminal history in Pennsylvania, and for the first -- and only -- time, Marsalis tried to sound apologetic.

"I take responsibility and leave my fate in your hands," he said to the judge.

Given his history in Pennsylvania, Marsalis was sentenced to life in prison in the Idaho State Penitentiary. In combination with his Pennsylvania sentence, the earliest he will be eligible for parole is 2031.

Afterward, Rovell thanked Jody.

"Thank you for coming forward and doing what you did," Rovell said. "I'm just so grateful. I'm just so grateful I can't even explain."

Jody said there was never any question in her mind about whether she would testify.

"I felt like I needed to follow through with it and at no point did I ever not want to," she said. "I don't think people that do these kinds of things to people should get away with it."

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