The case of Commonwealth v. Ari Goldstein

Jurors will continue deliberating today.

Ari Goldstein (right), the former president of Temple's Alpha Epsilon Pi chapter, leaves the Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice Center in Center City on Feb. 14. He is facing six sexual-assault related charges. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Content warning: This article discusses topics around sexual assault that may be triggering for some readers.

Deliberations in the trial of Ari Goldstein, former president of Temple’s chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi, will resume today after jurors went home before reaching a verdict Friday.  

Goldstein is accused of sexually assaulting a Temple student and an alumna in separate incidents in AEPi’s fraternity house on Broad Street near Norris in 2017 and 2018.

The trial comes two years after the university began investigating AEPi and suspended the fraternity’s social privileges in March 2018. The fraternity was removed from campus in April 2018, the same month Philadelphia Police announced they were investigating the fraternity for allegations of sexual assault. Goldstein was arrested in May 2018 and again in August that year.

Goldstein is charged with sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and indecent assault in connection with the alleged assault of a survivor in November 2017, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. He is separately charged with attempted sexual assault, attempted involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and indecent assault for the other alleged assault in February 2018.

One survivor, who previously had sexual encounters with Goldstein, alleges that in November 2017, Goldstein invited her into his bedroom inside the fraternity house and began to have sex with her. At first, it was consensual, she testified, but Goldstein became aggressive. 

Goldstein allegedly asked the survivor to perform oral sex on him, which she initially agreed to but then told him to stop. He would not, she testified, so she pushed herself off Goldstein and ran out of the room. Goldstein allegedly texted her an apology the next day, explaining he blacked out and “would never intentionally do anything to hurt you.”

The other survivor testified that in February 2018, Goldstein led her into a bedroom and locked the door behind him. He then allegedly forced himself on her and pinned her on a couch, restraining and kissing her. When the survivor yelled for him to stop, no one could hear her through the loud music that was playing, she testified.

He allegedly tried to force her to perform oral sex on him before she broke free and ran out of the room.

In his opening and closing arguments, Wynkoop emphasized that Goldstein ignored the survivors’ signals for him to stop during the alleged assaults. 

“‘No’ should have been the end of it,” Wynkoop said.

Mental Health and Sexual Abuse Resources

The survivors did not report the incidents immediately because they were afraid of losing friendships with other members of the fraternity, Wynkoop said. One survivor testified that before the alleged assault, the AEPi fraternity house was her favorite place to attend parties.

Perry de Marco Sr., a defense lawyer for Goldstein, asked both survivors whether, during the nights of the alleged incidents, they were under the influence of alcohol. One survivor said she had three or four drinks while the other survivor said she had three. 

De Marco also asked both survivors why they waited months to report the alleged assaults. 

One survivor said she did not report the alleged incident because she just wanted to forget about it and finish college. She decided to come forward when she saw a news report about how Goldstein was accused of sexual assault by another person, she testified.

“That’s when I realized that this didn’t happen at one time,” the survivor said.

The other survivor did not initially report the assault because she did not want to get all residents of the AEPi fraternity house in trouble, she testified. Both survivors testified that they lost friendships after reporting the alleged assaults.

The commonwealth’s case is also based on the testimony of friends of the survivors, who said they were with the survivors on the nights of the alleged assaults and were told in detail about the incidents shortly after.

Mitchell Pisarz, the former vice president of AEPi and a 2019 alumnus, testified that he was with one survivor before and after the alleged incident. She seemed upset about something that night and texted Pisarz in detail about the incident the next day, he testified. 

“I clearly said ‘no’ and ‘stop’ multiple times,” the survivor allegedly texted Pisarz.

In his cross-examination, de Marco asked Pisarz if the survivor’s account of the alleged incident was clouded by her drinking that night. Pisarz replied that he could not say. He testified that he later asked Goldstein to apologize to the survivor for what happened. 

Casey Miller, a junior art therapy major, testified that she and the other survivor attended a party at the AEPi fraternity house the night of the alleged incident. The survivor “looked extremely frightened” after leaving Goldstein’s room and described what happened a week or more after the night, she testified.

De Marco asked Miller why she did not ask for more details from the survivor the night of the incident.

“I didn’t want to push her or push her boundaries,” Miller said. “Everyone copes differently.”

Wynkoop called Ryan Aitken, a Temple Police detective, to describe how the assaults were reported to him, and Edward Enriquez, a detective in Philadelphia Police’s Special Victims Unit, to explain that the police executed search warrants on Goldstein’s phone and the AEPi fraternity house in 2018. The police found that Goldstein looked up “indecent assault” and “is forcible touching indecent assault,” on his phone the day he received a letter from Temple notifying him he had been accused of sexual assault. 

The defense called Alexa Silverman, a former roommate of one of the survivors, who testified that one survivor told her about the alleged incident in vague terms months after it happened.

Goldstein’s childhood friend Eric Taskin, his sister Julie Goldstein and a doctor, Richard Stram, who knew the family well, all testified that Goldstein is a good citizen.  

“A person of good reputation is not likely to act in a matter that’s not of that reputation,” de Marco said.

In his closing argument, Wynkoop said the survivors, one a junior and the other a freshman at the time of the incidents, were both young college women living the “American dream.”

“They are experiencing life with freedom for the first time and then something happens,” Wynkoop said. “And suddenly the whole world is closing in.”

Goldstein’s text message apologizing to a survivor demonstrates that he knew he did something wrong, Wynkoop said.

“He was doing damage control,” Wynkoop said in his closing argument.

De Marco had said in his opening argument that the survivors were confused about whether the alleged incidents were sexual assault. During his closing argument, Wynkoop said de Marco was the one who was confused.

“Is it just that they’re so confused that women can say no,” Wynkoop asked. “That a woman has the right?”

In his opening argument, de Marco said that “a woman can dress like a hussie” but “the minute you don’t do something she likes, may God strike you down.”

Wynkoop responded in his closing argument by criticizing the narrative that men cannot be expected to control themselves.

“It’s a story that’s been told for 75 years, and quite frankly, I’m tired of it,” he said.

In his closing argument, de Marco questioned why one of the survivors went to the bedroom of someone she did not know well. He also questioned why the survivors did not leave Goldstein’s room when he became aggressive during the alleged incidents or report their claims to the police sooner. 

“Did he say ‘don’t leave,’” de Marco asked one survivor during her testimony.

De Marco repeated the question of how alcohol had affected both Goldstein and the survivors during the alleged incidents. He also asked why the survivor’s phones had not been investigated like Goldstein’s phone.

“This law beyond reasonable doubt is what makes the United States of America as great as it is, and in this case, fairness went down the toilet,” de Marco said.

Aitken testified that he offered both survivors the option of moving forward with the case through Title IX or with the Philadelphia Police Department. While both survivors chose to hand the cases over to the police, de Marco said that if they had reported the case to Title IX, then they would not have to come to court.

“They wanted to make a show out of this, for some reason we may never know,” de Marco said.

In his closing argument, Wynkoop questioned the defense’s standard for evidence. 

”What is Mr. de Marco asking for,” Wynkoop asked. “What is it that he thinks is insufficient about their resistance.” 

“What they went through and what they testified in that chair is enough,” he added. “They are enough.”

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