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“Any woman was potential prey,” says Philadelphia special prosecutor Joseph Khan.
“Plenty of women were attracted to him, but this guy was aroused by the very idea of nonconsent.” As Leigh drove home that morning, she had no idea what lay in her future: that she would join 9 of those 21 accusers to face Marsalis in Philadelphia courtrooms over the course of two trials, telling nearly identical stories of assault.
As the defense hammered home, none of the women stormed to the nearest police station or went to a hospital for a rape exam and toxicology test.
In fact, the opposite happened: In a near-masochistic twist, most of Marsalis’s dates had contact with him again — behavior that seems too bizarre to be believed, but that psychologists say is actually not uncommon among women raped by someone they know.
So when Marsalis walked Leigh to her car and suggested they get together again, Leigh heard herself say, “Sure.” She was certain she hadn’t gone to bed with her date of her own volition — and that she couldn’t possibly have blacked out after barely three drinks — but her certainty was softening in the face of his chivalry. He was an unemployed paramedic and nursing-school dropout whose true profession, prosecutors assert, was full-time predator.
Investigators would discover 21 women who claimed Marsalis drugged and raped them — many listed in a file on his computer called “The Yearly Calendar of Women.” Authorities suspect his true tally is far higher.
” says retired police sergeant Joanne Archambault, president and training director of Sexual Assault Training and Investigations, also in Addy, Washington, a firm that educates law enforcement about rape.“And keep in mind, the cases that come through the prosecutor’s door are the strongest ones — strong enough for the police to have referred them along in the first place,” notes EVAW International research director Kimberly Lonsway, Ph. Back in the 1970s, most reported rapes were committed by strangers; those cases are now in the minority.Yet juries — and many judges as well — still think of rape as being only between strangers, says Lynn Hecht Schafran, director of the National Judicial Education Program of Legal Momentum, a woman’s advocacy group in New York City.They would be 10 educated, professional women versus a demonstrated liar — a man who had pretended to be a doctor, a CIA employee, even an astronaut — whom a court-appointed psychologist would decide met the legal definition of a “sexually violent predator.” And yet the most remarkable thing about both trials wasn’t the way they exposed the alleged tactics of a serial date rapist.It was that despite the outrageousness of the accusations against Marsalis, the testimony of 10 women wasn’t enough to get a single rape conviction against him.