The attempted rape case against former Temple University Alpha Epsilon Pi president Ari Goldstein is heading to trial.
On July 19, at Goldstein’s preliminary hearing, Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Lydia Kirkland determined there was enough evidence for the case to proceed. She ordered Goldstein to stand trial for attempted rape, intimidation of a witness/victim, indecent assault, unlawful restraint, simple assault, false imprisonment and attempted sexual assault. The formal arraignment is set for Aug. 2.
Authorities arrested Goldstein, 21, at Logan International Airport in Boston in May on his way to Israel for a Birthright trip. Goldstein, who had stepped down from his position as AEPI’s president weeks before, received multiple charges stemming from a Feb. 25 incident.
According to reports, a 19-year-old female Temple University student testified at the hearing, where she said Goldstein invited her into his room to smoke marijuana with other fraternity members at an AEPi party. When she entered his room, she saw no one else there. She said he locked the door and tried to force her to perform a sex act on him.
An affidavit of probable cause said that he held her down and that she eventually managed to kick him and run away.
“They struggled for a lengthy period of time,” Assistant District Attorney Lauren Stram told CBS Philly. “She made efforts to leave.”
Goldstein’s defense attorney, Perry de Marco Sr., told CBS Philly that this case was an example of the #MeToo movement becoming overzealous.
“This is #MeToo gone wild,” de Marco said outside of the courtroom, with a cigar in hand. “I guarantee it. I guarantee that if I don’t show you that, when this trial is over, I’ll stand on my head in the middle of Filbert Street.”
He said he wanted a local trial with a jury made up of Northeast Philadelphians with relatives in the police force.
In an interview with the Exponent, de Marco said that 30 years ago, a case like this wouldn’t have been prosecuted based on this testimony.
“People just seem to be thinking a different way about this kind of subject matter,” de Marco said. “I believe it played a role in the motivation for the victim to allege these charges and the circumstances in which she did allege them.”
In May, de Marco expressed a similar sentiment.
“[This case] is going to involve some of the major attitudes in the United States and the world actually about crimes of this nature, movements that I know, I know from the evidence I have, played a big, big part in this entire case,” de Marco said less than a week after police had arrested Goldstein. “I am fully prepared to prove it.”
This would not be the first time an attorney has used #MeToo to defend a client charged with sexual assault. Defense attorneys have used it to select jurors, ask for trial delays and argue that prosecutors were motivated by political pressure from the movement.
“There was a preliminary hearing where a judge heard testimony from a witness and determined that the case should go forward,” said Ben Waxman, director of communications at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. “Mr. de Marco is free to make whatever arguments he would like in the press, but this case is moving forward based on evidence.”
On April 20, Temple University Police issued a notice saying that Temple University had received several credible reports of underage drinking, excessive use of alcohol, possible drug use and sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, at AEPi. As a result, the university suspended the chapter.
Ray Betzner, Temple’s chief university spokesman, said that every student there takes a mandatory online course on sexual misconduct. In the past two years, the university established a reporting and support hotline in partnership with Women Organized Against Rape.
Jonathan Pierce, a past international president of the AEPi fraternity and its media spokesman, said the fraternity did not have any statement beyond what they had previously said about cooperating with the authorities.
As for the Temple chapter, Pierce said there are no plans or timeline to resume activity.
“We’ll let the legal process play out,” Pierce said.