Content warning: This story mentions violence against women and sexual assault that might be upsetting to some readers.
A Temple student and one alumna testified in court today that Ari Goldstein, the former president of Temple’s chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi, sexually assaulted them in the fraternity’s house on Broad Street near Norris in 2017 and 2018.
The two survivors alleged that Goldstein, in separate incidents, physically restrained them and attempted to force them to perform oral sex on him. The 23-year-old is being tried for 14 charges related to the two incidents.
Their testimonies marked the start of witness testimony in the trial, which began Tuesday with jury selection, The Temple News reported.
The courtroom in the Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice in Center City was packed with family and friends of Goldstein. Silence filled the room during the witnesses’ testimonies.
One survivor, who previously had sexual encounters with Goldstein, alleged that in November 2017, he invited her into a bedroom inside AEPi’s fraternity house. She testified the two began to have consensual sex but Goldstein became aggressive, putting his arm on her collarbone and forcing his hand down her throat.
The survivor then allegedly asked Goldstein to stop, and he complied. Goldstein then asked the survivor to perform oral sex on him, which she initially agreed to before telling him to stop, she testified. The survivor allegedly started crying and told Goldstein again to stop, but he would not.
The survivor testified that she was eventually able to push herself off Goldstein, grab her clothes and leave the room. The day after the alleged assault, Goldstein texted her an apology, explaining he had blacked out and would “never intentionally do anything to hurt you,” she testified.
The other survivor alleged in February 2018, while entering his bedroom inside the fraternity house, Goldstein pulled her by the wrist and pushed her onto his couch, locking the door behind him. Goldstein then allegedly pushed the survivor onto her back on the couch and restrained her, holding her hands above her head while he kissed her, she testified.
The survivor said that although she moved her head back to resist Goldstein, he continued to kiss her. When the survivor yelled for him to stop, she said that no one could hear her as there was loud music on, she testified.
Goldstein allegedly dug his knee into the survivor’s thigh while laughing and shushing her. He then allegedly pushed her upper body onto him and pressed her head toward his crotch, thrusting his hips toward her face, she testified. The next day the survivor saw a bruise on her thigh where Goldstein had pressed his knee into her, she said.
The survivor was able to push Goldstein off of her and run out of the room, she testified.
“I’m not the same person I was before I was assaulted,” the survivor said.
Ryan Aitken, a Temple Police detective, testified Wednesday. He said both survivors separately approached him after their alleged assaults. He presented them with the option of handling the matter through Temple’s Title IX office or the Philadelphia Police. Both survivors authorized Aitken to report the case to PPD, he testified.
Before the two survivors testified, the prosecution and defense presented their opening arguments.
In his opening statement, Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Zachary Wynkoop argued that during both alleged incidents, Goldstein did not listen to the survivor’s signals saying no.
Goldstein ignored both survivors’ resistance toward him and pleas for him to stop, Wynkoop said.
“‘No’ should have been the end of it,” Wynkoop said.
Perry de Marco Sr., one of Goldstein’s lawyers, discussed the culture surrounding sexual assault today, saying that women today are quicker to make allegations of sexual assault than they were in the past.
“We have no idea in today’s world in sexual matters, what is right and what is wrong,” de Marco said.
“The minute that you don’t do something she likes, may God strike you down,” de Marco added.
De Marco also alleged there were inconsistencies in one survivor’s account. The survivor had said during a pretrial in July 2018 that Goldstein had kissed her right breast, de Marco said, while today, the survivor said Goldstein was biting at her left breast.
Trauma often makes it difficult for survivors of sexual assault to accurately recall all the details of their experience, The Washington Post reported.
Survivors of sexual violence may be prone to experiencing depression, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. One survivor said after the event she experienced depression and both survivors said they experienced anxiety after the alleged incidents.
The trial will continue Thursday.
The Temple News does not publish the names of survivors of sexual assault without permission.