Content warning: This article discusses topics around sexual assault that may be triggering for some readers.
Editor’s note: This story is a part of one of two articles The Temple News is publishing today on this case.
One year ago today, Ari Goldstein, the former president of Temple University’s chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi, was found guilty of attempting to sexually assault a Temple student in February 2018, The Temple News reported.
Goldstein was charged with attempted sexual assault, attempted involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and indecent assault of the survivor. A jury also found him not guilty of sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and indecent assault for a separate incident involving a Temple alumna in November 2017.
Goldstein was sentenced to 3.5 to seven years in state prison on Oct. 21, 2020, and was also required to register as a sex offender for life, The Temple News reported.
As national conversations around sexual assault on college campuses continue to evolve, here is an overview of the events leading up to Goldstein’s sentencing and where the case is now.
In March 2018, Temple suspended AEPi’s social privileges and launched an investigation of the fraternity after receiving reports that its members had committed “potential violations” of university policies.
One month later, the Philadelphia Police Department and Temple Police also began investigating AEPi after receiving “multiple credible reports” of sexual assault and other crimes in connection with the fraternity and its house on Broad Street near Norris.
This prompted Temple to indefinitely suspend AEPi from Main Campus, The Temple News reported.
On May 15, 2018, Goldstein, then a junior at Temple, was arrested at an airport in Boston, Massachusetts, on charges of attempted rape, attempted sexual assault, indecent assault, simple assault, unlawful restraint, intimidation of a witness, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and false imprisonment in connection to an incident from February 2018, The Temple News reported.
Goldstein posted 10 percent of his $2 million bail two days later, The Temple News reported.
In a preliminary hearing on July 19, 2018, the survivor, who is a current Temple student, alleged Goldstein approached her at a party in the AEPi fraternity house on Feb. 25, 2018, and invited her to smoke marijuana with him in his third-floor bedroom. Once inside his bedroom, Goldstein locked the door before pinning her on his couch and kneeling on her left thigh, which left a bruise for two weeks, she said at the hearing.
After forcefully kissing her, Goldstein attempted to force the survivor to perform oral sex on him, she said. The survivor tried multiple times to escape the room. During the assault, Goldstein would stop for short periods of time, the survivor said, but would not allow her to leave the room, The Temple News reported.
Goldstein was arrested again on Aug. 8, 2018, for eight new sexual assault charges related to a separate incident that allegedly occurred on Nov. 29, 2017. The charges included forcible rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, false imprisonment, sexual assault and recklessly endangering another person, The Temple News reported.
This second incident allegedly also occurred during a party at the AEPi fraternity house and involved a now-Temple alumna who said she previously had consensual sexual encounters with Goldstein. The alumna alleged she received several texts from Goldstein telling her to go to his room, where the two began having consensual sexual intercourse, The Temple News reported.
However, Goldstein became aggressive during the encounter by pushing his fingers down the alumna’s throat and bruising her collarbone, she alleged. Goldstein allegedly told the alumna to perform oral sex on him, and she initially consented before changing her mind a few seconds later, she said.
The alumna said Goldstein forced her to continue even though she rescinded her consent, and she eventually pushed herself off Goldstein and escaped the room, The Temple News reported.
The next day, Goldstein allegedly texted the alumna to apologize, writing that he would “never intentionally do anything to hurt” her, The Temple News reported.
Goldstein posted 10 percent of a $1.5 million bail for this arrest later that August, The Temple News reported.
Goldstein attended motions and pretrial hearings throughout the rest of 2018 and 2019 in preparation for his trial. In March 2019, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Timika Lane ruled to have both cases be tried at the same time because they were similar in nature, pointing to how the survivor and alumna were both Temple students at the time of the incidents, The Temple News reported.
Perry de Marco Sr., Goldstein’s attorney during his trial, said consolidating the two cases into one trial would create a “tremendous disadvantage to the defense” because the jury could become confused while sorting through evidence, The Temple News reported.
Jury selection for Goldstein’s trial began on Feb. 11, 2020, with Goldstein facing 14 charges related to both incidents he was arrested for, The Temple News reported.
The prosecution, represented by Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Zachary Wynkoop, and de Marco presented their opening statements on Feb. 12, 2020. Wynkoop argued Goldstein did not listen to the survivor and alumna when they told him no, while de Marco argued women today are quicker to make sexual assault allegations than in the past, The Temple News reported.
After the opening arguments, the survivor and alumna testified that Goldstein sexually assaulted them during separate incidents at the AEPi fraternity house. Ryan Aitken, a Temple Police detective, also testified that both the survivor and alumna approached him separately after each incident and authorized him to report their cases to the Philadelphia Police Department, The Temple News reported.
Witness testimony continued on Feb. 13, 2020. The prosecution called on three witnesses: Mitchell Pisarz, the former vice president of AEPi and a friend of the alumna; Casey Miller, then a junior art therapy major and friend of the survivor; and Edward Enriquez, a detective in the PPD’s special victims unit.
Pisarz testified he was with the alumna before and during the AEPi party on the night of the November 2017 incident, and that he confronted Goldstein about the incident after exchanging Snapchat messages with the alumna, who “seemed slightly upset,” The Temple News reported.
Miller testified she attended the AEPi party with the survivor on the night of the 2018 incident. Miller said the survivor went to Goldstein’s room for more than half an hour to smoke marijuana and looked “extremely frightened” afterward, but did not fully explain what happened until at least one week later, The Temple News reported.
Enriquez testified an investigation of Goldstein’s phone showed he had searched “indecent assault” and “is forcible touching indecent assault” on Google the same day he received a letter from Temple notifying him he was accused of sexual assault, The Temple News reported.
The defense then called on Alexa Silverman, then a junior chemistry and education major who lived with the survivor for two years. Silverman testified the victim only told her about the incident with Goldstein months after it happened and described it as consensual, The Temple News reported.
The defense closed its witness testimony with rapid statements from Goldstein’s sister Julie, Goldstein’s childhood friend Eric Taskin and Richard Stram, a doctor who knew Goldstein’s family. All testified Goldstein was a “good, law-abiding citizen,” The Temple News reported.
Before jury deliberations began on Feb. 14, 2020, the prosecution and defense presented their closing arguments. In his argument, de Marco questioned the survivor and alumna’s decisions to not leave the bedroom sooner and wait months to report the incidents to police and how alcohol may have impaired their experiences, The Temple News reported.
Wynkoop argued that the alumna and victim provided enough testimony for the jury to find Goldstein guilty, and that the defense’s witnesses only knew Goldstein’s past actions, not his present character, The Temple News reported.
On Feb. 18, 2020, the jury found Goldstein guilty of attempted sexual assault, attempted involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and indecent assault of the survivor. They also found him not guilty of sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and indecent assault of the alumna, The Temple News reported.
Goldstein’s sentencing was originally scheduled for May 2020, but was moved to October 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Oct. 21, 2020, Goldstein was sentenced to 3.5 to seven years in state prison and will have to register for life as a sex offender, The Temple News reported. The sentence was within Pennsylvania’s standard guidelines for sentencing, Wynkoop said.
“I hope this sends a message to anybody who is living with the pain of having been a victim of assault that it’s okay to come forward,” Wynkoop said on Oct. 27, 2020. “You will be taken seriously if you come forward. Your case will be treated seriously, and you will be treated with the dignity that somebody who has lived through this deserves.”
After the trial ended, Goldstein changed his defense attorney to William Brennan, who previously represented one of the acquitted Pennsylvania State University fraternity brothers charged in connection with the death of a student during a hazing ritual in February 2017.
Brennan also felt Goldstein’s sentencing matched Pennsylvania’s guidelines, he said.
“It’s mathematically defendable by virtue of the guideline recommendation,” Brennan said on Oct. 26, 2020. “So I felt in light of the counts of conviction that were present in the case that it was a guideline sentence.”
The defense’s appeal was sent to an appellate court on Feb. 8. In their appeal, the defense plans to present multiple issues with the trial and sentencing, like the decision to try the two cases simultaneously and “certain exclusionary rulings made by the trial court,” Brennan said.