Accused Serial Rapist Finally Convicted of Felony Rape

by Cara on April 28, 2009

in courts, misogyny, patriarchy, rape and sexual assault, violence against women and girls

About a year and a half ago, I wrote about Jeffrey Marsalis (trigger warning), a man who was accused of drugging and raping at least 30 women but almost certainly raped many, many more, and who was then acquitted in the rape of 10 of those women, with only two lesser charges of sexual assault sticking.

Now, there is some incredibly bittersweet news on him, via Abyss2Hope.  Marsalis, who was extradited to Idaho in yet another rape charge, has been convicted on one count of felony rape — which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

It’s bittersweet, of course, because the woman in this case is yet another woman who Marsalis victimized.  It’s bittersweet because he has finally been convicted, but only after so many charges against him being horrifically and falsely ruled invalid, and becoming the poster child for rape apologism in action.  And it’s bittersweet because this case shows us that some DNA evidence is worth far, far more than the testimony of 10 women who have never met each other telling pretty much the exact same story.

And another note in Marcella’s post on this got me thinking.  She mentioned that among the evidence incriminating Marsalis was testimony from eye witnesses saying that the victim was observed as appearing so intoxicated that she could barely walk.  She could barely walk out of the bar.  And people saw her.  They saw her, and still, Marsalis was left to rape her.

This just really hammered home to me yet again the importance of what Nora and Ashley are always talking about over at the SAFER blog — bystander training.  What if just one of those people who saw Marsalis trying to leave with this woman who could barely walk stopped and said something rather than just watching them walk out that door?  What if other people in the bar had then backed that first person up?  What if the bartender had looked at her, noted that she’d only had a beer and a shot, and said “this isn’t right”?

And how many other rapes by Marsalis began with a woman who he drugged appearing this intoxicated?  How many of those rapes could have been prevented if someone was just willing to stand up and say something?  How many could have been prevented if they had been taught how to stand up and say something?

Yes, yes.  Of course, Marsalis and Marsalis alone is responsible for his intense misogyny and violence.

But I think that we, too — all of us — have a responsiblity to those around us.  And it’s time to stop being afraid of being taken the wrong way, and to start stepping up to it.  It’s time to start ensuring that all of us know how.

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{ 2 comments }

1 abyss2hope April 28, 2009 at 11:25 pm

That’s an excellent point. As I originally read about what those people saw I was reminded of the case 2 years ago where 2 women intervened after 1 of them saw a man slipping something into the woman’s drink.

2 Elena Perez April 29, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Thank you for writing about this. I linked back to it in a post on the Los Angeles untested rape kit backlog (http://www.canow.org/canoworg/2009/04/fixing-las-rape-kit-crisis.html), to show how essential DNA evidence can be in rape prosecutions.

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