Was Jeffrey Marsalis the Match.com predator spinning a "web of lies" - pretending to be a doctor, an astronaut, a spy - to lure women into dates, drugging and then raping them?
Or was he just a kooky guy dressed in hospital scrubs who bamboozled women into sex - women who are now out to get revenge?
That's what was argued before Common Pleas Court Judge Steven Geroff yesterday at the opening of Marsalis' second rape trial. He was acquitted by a jury last year of rape based on similar allegations by three women.
This time, seven other women have accused Marsalis, 34, of doing the same thing to them.
Marsalis was "a cold and deliberate rapist" who convinced women that he spoke many languages, and was an Olympic-caliber athlete and an undercover CIA agent - all while he had no job, said the prosecutor, Joseph Khan.
Kathleen Martin, Marsalis' attorney, said that the allegations were several years old, were not immediately reported to authorities, are not supported by any physical evidence, and are the result of the women's being tracked down and told he was not a doctor.
"How could I have been such a fool?" Martin suggested as a motive for the women's allegations.
She said all the women consented to sex.
The first woman to testify, however, was not tracked down by police. She came forward in November after seeing a news report of Marsalis on television. And she told a doctor of the attack two months after Marsalis allegedly raped her in January 2003 in his apartment at the Metropolitan in Center City. The doctor's note of the rape allegation was entered into evidence.
The New Jersey woman, who was 26 at the time, described meeting Marsalis through Match.com in December 2002.
Marsalis, who used the screen name "Doctor Jeff," posted various photos of himself on his profile, including one of him in an astronaut suit.
She exchanged e-mails, had conversations with him over the phone, and agreed to a date.
"He seemed like an average guy - very nice," she testified.
They spent the first part of their date at the Independence Brew Pub, at the Reading Terminal.
The woman said Marsalis told her that he was a doctor at the University of Pennsylvania and that he also was an "in-flight doctor" for NASA.
He flashed her a badge, she said, apparently to prove he worked for NASA.
They sipped some small beer samples and then each ordered a pint of beer, she said.
Either while drinking that beer or starting a second, she left to use the ladies room, she said. Sometime after she returned and continued drinking, she said she "started to feel disoriented, very passive, very uncomfortable."
Marsalis suggested she go to his apartment and let the effects of the alcohol pass. She agreed.
She also acknowledged that she began kissing Marsalis and letting him remove her shoes and panty hose, but said she stopped his hands "climbing up my leg" and told him she did not want to have sex.
They continued to kiss, "and then I lost memory," she said.
She regained consciousness to find herself naked in his bed with Marsalis on top of her, she said.
"I remember telling him to stop. I remember telling him he was hurting me," she testified.
She said he expressed anger and told her: "Don't you want to please me?" She later passed out again and woke up hours later.
The woman, who worked for a public-relations firm, said she was intimidated by what she believed was Marsalis' status as a doctor and astronaut, and decided not to go to the police.
"I was scared and I wanted to let it go," she said.
Her husband, whom she met shortly after the date with Marsalis, later took the stand and said she had told him several weeks after they met about the incident but did not mention the man's name.
In November, he was watching a newscast when a report came up about a man who posed as a doctor and astronaut and was facing rape charges. He said he called his wife over to the TV.
"Oh my God! It's Jeffrey!" she said, according to her husband.
He said he then convinced her that she had to go to the authorities.
Besides the Philadelphia case, Marsalis is facing a similar drugging and date-rape charge in Idaho. That case is pending.