2009: Jeffrey Marsalis Speaks Publicly for First Time

After Philly trials, alleged serial rapist Jeffrey Marsalis faces Idaho jury.

ByABC News
July 13, 2009, 10:09 AM

July 15, 2009 -- This story originally aired on ABC News "20/20" on July 15, 2009. Tune in for an encore presentation of the Jeffrey Marsalis story on Friday, Aug. 30, 2013 at 10 p.m. ET

For years, through a score of accusations, multiple arrests and two criminal trials, Jeffrey Marsalis had stayed one step ahead of a rape conviction.

Twenty-one women in the Philadelphia area had accused him in incidents occurring between 2001 and 2005. Ten of those cases were prosecuted, in two separate trials.

Both times -- in January 2006 and June 2007 -- Marsalis, a former emergency medical technician who masqueraded as a trauma surgeon and sometimes as an astronaut, was found not guilty of rape, though he was convicted in the second trial on two lesser charges of sexual assault.

Then, in April 2009, Marsalis, 35, faced rape charges again, this time in Sun Valley, Idaho, where his family had long owned property.

A young woman, "Jody," had accused him of raping her in his apartment after the two went out drinking one night in October 2005. Jody had to wait more than three years for Marsalis' Philadelphia trials to wrap up before she would have her day in court.

And now, for the first time, after declining to testify in any of his trials and refusing to make any public statement, Marsalis would discuss the charges against him, in an interview with ABC News.

"Let me make something very, very clear to you," Marsalis said after the case's conclusion. "I have never drugged anybody. I have never raped anybody. I have never forced myself on anybody. Ever."

Multiple women were watching the Idaho trial with acute interest, including Jessika Rovell, with whom Marsalis had maintained a long-term relationship even as he allegedly perpetrated a string of date rapes, and a number of his alleged Philadelphia victims, whom he had met on the online dating site Match.com using an elaborate fake identity.

"Hopefully he'll be found guilty of everything this time," alleged victim "Natalie," a scientific researcher who was 28 when she met Marsalis, told ABC News in the runup to sentencing.

Several factors set the Idaho case apart from previous attempts to prosecute Marsalis. Jody had gone directly to a hospital and to police the day after the crime, as previous accusers had not. The prosecution was able to call a crucial witness.

Perhaps most damning of all was Marsalis' rambling, self-contradicting statement to Sun Valley police following his arrest.

"Ladies and gentleman, the defendant is accused of having sexual intercourse with a female who was unconscious due to an intoxicating substance," Idaho prosecutor Jim Thomas told the jury. "That is not consensual sex, it's rape."

The night she went out with Marsalis, Jody said, she had found strange granular matter in the bottom of a shot he bought for her. She passed out with strange suddenness, she said, and woke up in Marsalis' apartment knowing that she had had sex and that her clothes had been rearranged on her body.

And according to Jody, who was 21 at the time of the incident, the sex could not have been consensual, because she is a lesbian.

"Do you recall having any kind of discussion with the defendant about having any type of sexual contact?" Thomas asked Jody about the night at the bar.

She said she didn't.

"While you were out at the bar, um, were you flirtatious with him?" the prosecutor asked.

Again, her answer was no.