Wednesday, October 17, 2007

?Sexual predator? to face Blaine County rape charge

Marsalis sentenced to 21 years in prison in Philadelphia case

Express Staff Writer

Jeffrey J. Marsalis

Prosecutors in Philadelphia will cooperate with Blaine County authorities in bringing Jeffrey Marsalis to Idaho to face a 2005 Sun Valley rape charge.

Thirty-four-year-old Marsalis, a former Wood River Valley resident, was sentenced to 21 years in prison last Friday in Philadelphia on two felony counts of sexual assault and one misdemeanor charge of unlawful restraint. He must serve at least half his prison time in the Philadelphia convictions before he is eligible for parole.

Marsalis is accused in the Sun Valley case of drugging and raping a then 21-year-old woman who Blaine County court records describe as a "lesbian" who did not intend to have sex with Marsalis.

"We're not going to stand in the way of him being extradited," Philadelphia prosecutor Joseph Kahn told the Idaho Mountain Express on Tuesday. "We're not going to stand in the way of Mr. Thomas' office bringing him to justice."

Kahn was referring to Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas, who was unavailable Tuesday but said in September that Marsalis will be extradited to Blaine County regardless of the sentence imposed in Philadelphia.

Thomas said then that Marsalis will be brought to Idaho around the first of the year with a trial likely in the spring of 2008.

The sex cases against Marsalis have received national news media attention. After his Blaine County arrest in November 2005, Marsalis was tried in Philadelphia and acquitted in January 2006 of three date rape charges. But his troubles with the law were not over. He was immediately arrested again in Philadelphia on additional sex crime allegations.

Marsalis was tried last June on charges of drugging and raping seven women, most of whom he met on, an online dating service, but was only convicted of two counts of sexual assault.

He also pleaded no contest at sentencing to a misdemeanor count of unlawful restraint in another rape allegation. That conviction added another year to his sentence.

At sentencing the Philadelphia court ruled that Marsalis is a "sexually violent predator" and ordered that he be classified for the rest of his life as a sex offender.

"We're obviously very pleased with the judge's sentence," Kahn said. "Mr. Marsalis is a violent sexual predator and society needs to be protected from him. We're glad that justice is done for three of the victims in this case."

News media accounts about the Philadelphia case have reported that Marsalis claimed at various times to his victims that he was an astronaut, a CIA agent or a trauma surgeon, when in reality he was a part-time nursing student.

Blaine County court records say that Marsalis waived extradition as a condition of his release on $150,000 bond following his arrest in the Sun Valley case.

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