Every year 25 million Americans go online in search of love. Of these, more than 120,000 end in “I do!” That’s a lot of happy couples, but in the search of finding your happily-ever after, others are not so lucky.
Take the 21 women in Philadelphia who turned to Match.com in search of love only to fall victim to the”worst date rapist in the nation’s history” – Jeffrey Marsalis.
He called himself “Dr. Jeff” in his online profile where he posed as a trauma surgeon, even going as far as posting pictures of himself in scrubs and with a stethoscope. At other times he masqueraded as a astronaut complete with a NASA ID or an undercover CIA agent.
For many of the women, his act was the same. He’d pursue them online, luring them in with lies of his professional accomplishments and ambitions. Then he’d ask them out on a formal date where the women would ultimately wake up in his bed the following morning feeling sick and unable to remember what had happened. Their conclusion – they had been drugged and raped.
None of the Philadelphia women went to the police right away, trying to convince themselves instead that nothing happened. It wasn’t until the police began investigating one of Marsalis’ ex-girlfriends who reported being date-raped that the women came forward with their stories – all of which were eerily similar: a bar, a blackout, and a confusing morning.
Ten of these cases were prosecuted in two separate trials in January 2006 and June 2007, but ultimately “Dr. Jeff” walked away a free man, acquitted both times and found not guilty of rape.
In April 2009, however, Marsalis faced rape charges for a third time in Idaho when another women, Jody, came forward with her story of being drugged and raped. In her case, Jody instantly knew the sex could not have been consensual because she is a lesbian.
Unlike the others, Jody also went directly to the police and hospital for a rape kit the day after the crime. There was also an eye-witness account from a taxi driver who testified that he saw Marsalis take Jody – who he was “half-dragging” – back to his apartment, not to mention a rambling, self-contradicting audio tape of Marsalis speaking to the police after his arrest.
This time Marsalis was found guilty of rape and sentenced to life in prison given his additional history in Pennsylvania.
Marsalis, however, still maintains his innocence:
“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.”
I beg to differ and thanks to Jody’s (and the women of Philadelphia’s) bravery and persistence, the one identity Marsalis was trying to hide most was finally revealed.
Photo originally from ABC News - http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=8043012&page=1