Victim: Some­thing ‘just didn’t feel right’

Lans­dale man on trial in Ch­ester County

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael P. Rel­la­han mrel­la­[email protected]­tu­ry­ @Ch­escoCourtN­ews on Twit­ter

WEST CH­ESTER >> She woke up in her room that morn­ing not know­ing how she had got­ten home, or when, but feel­ing fright­ened and pan­icky, even if she did not un­der­stand why.

“I woke up and I just shot up out of bed,” the 23-year-old Phoenixvil­le woman told mem­bers of the Com­mon Pleas Court jury hear­ing the case of a Lans­dale Uber driver ac­cused of rap­ing a fe­male pas­sen­ger he took home from the Val­ley Forge Casino. “I felt like I could not breathe. It was re­ally scary. I didn’t know any­thing.”

“I just started cry­ing,” she said. “I had a real bad gut feel­ing. I did not feel OK. Some­thing just didn’t feel right in my mind and my body. It just didn’t feel right.”

Not un­til sev­eral months later when the state po­lice trooper in­ves­ti­gat­ing the cir­cum­stances be­hind her case vis­ited her did the woman learn just what had hap­pened that morn­ing. State Trooper Amos Glick in­formed her that re­sults of a DNA test showed that the ride-shar­ing driver who took her home from the casino that night, Ahmed Mostafa El­gaa­fary had had sex­ual in­ter­course with her — some­thing that to this day she says she can­not re­mem­ber.

“How did you feel when Trooper Glick told you?” As­sis­tant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Alexis Shaw asked the woman dur­ing her tes­ti­mony Tues­day. “Not good,” she an­swered qui­etly. “It is a lot to take in.”

The woman, whose name is be­ing with­held by MediaNews Group be­cause of the na­ture of the charges in the case, tes­ti­fied for about 90 min­utes in Judge Pa­trick Car­mody’s court­room. As the eight women and four men on the jury hear­ing El­gaa­fary’s case lis­tened in­tently, she de­scribed how she had gone to the casino with her mother and step-fa­ther for din­ner and a night out, had sev­eral drinks, then lost track of what hap­pened to her for sev­eral hours un­til she woke up in her bed­room at the house she shared with her fam­ily in Charlestow­n.

El­gaa­fary, 27, of Lans­dale, is charged with rape of an un­con­scious per­son, in­vol­un­tary de­vi­ate

sex­ual in­ter­course, sex­ual as­sault, and in­de­cent as­sault. If con­victed, he faces a pos­si­ble term in state prison. He has con­ceded, through his de­fense at­tor­neys, that he did have sex with the woman the night of the in­ci­dent, but main­tains that there is no ev­i­dence that he forced him­self on her.

Ride shar­ing ser­vices such as Uber and Lyft have been strug­gling to deal with ac­cu­sa­tions that fe­male pas­sen­gers are the tar­gets of un­wanted at­ten­tion by their driv­ers, or in more ex­treme cases, the vic­tims of at­tacks.

The woman spoke softly and at time halt­ingly in her tes­ti­mony, both on di­rect ex­am­i­na­tion from Shaw and cross ex­am­i­na­tion from de­fense at­tor­ney Melissa Mc­Caf­ferty dur­ing her hour and a half on the wit­ness stand. A grad­u­ate

of Great Val­ley High School who at­tended col­lege in west­ern Penn­syl­va­nia, she said she and her fam­ily had since moved out of the town­house in Charlestow­n where they lived at the time of the in­ci­dent.

Ac­cord­ing to her de­scrip­tion of events, she and her mother and step-fa­ther went to the casino in Up­per Me­rion the night of Feb. 9, 2018, a Fri­day. They were reg­u­lar vis­i­tors at the casino com­plex, with her step-fa­ther en­joy­ing play­ing black­jack and her mother so­cial­iz­ing with friends there.

The trio ate din­ner at the Rev­o­lu­tion Chop House, where she had a glass of wine, and then moved to the Cen­ter Bar, where they met a friend of her mother’s named John Mu­drick, a “high roller” at the casino who bought her more drinks dur­ing the night while he and her mother sang karaoke at the Val­ley Tav­ern — “not very well.” Later, they re­turned to the Cen­ter Bar and sat talk­ing with the bar­tender there.

The woman, who was 21 at the time, said she could not re­mem­ber how many drinks she con­sumed that night or what type they were ex­cept for sev­eral glasses of wine. “I re­ally don’t re­mem­ber much,” al­though she could iden­tify her­self sit­ting at the bar with her mother in a sur­veil­lance video Shaw played for her.

Her mother and step­fa­ther left at some point and Mu­drick and a bar­tender at the casino, Jessica Her­nan­dez, or­dered an Uber to take her home, some­thing she had done in the past, around 2:20 a.m.

When she woke up the next morn­ing, she tes­ti­fied, she could not find her phone. She no­ticed bruises on her thighs, and had a ter­ri­ble headache. There was dirt un­der­neath her fin­ger­nails, and she could not re­mem­ber how she got into her house. She waited for her mother and step-fa­ther to re­turn home, and told them how un­easy she felt.

Af­ter get­ting a new phone, the woman was able

to get a text mes­sage from Mu­drick that showed her the route and du­ra­tion of the Uber ride home. It was far from the most di­rect route from Val­ley Forge to her home just out­side Phoenixvil­le, de­tour­ing across the Schuylkill River into Up­per Prov­i­dence — and had lasted al­most an hour — from 2:21 a.m. to 3:14 a.m. — rather than the nor­mal ride time of 15 min­utes.

Even­tu­ally, she went to Pottstown Hos­pi­tal and un­der­went a sex­ual as­sault ex­am­i­na­tion, later meet­ing with Glick and giv­ing him a state­ment.

In cross ex­am­i­na­tion by Mc­Caf­ferty, who is shar­ing de­fense du­ties with at­tor­ney Jonathan Altman of West Ch­ester, the woman main­tained that she had no in­de­pen­dent mem­ory of be­ing at the Cen­ter Bar at 2 a.m. or leav­ing in the Uber. Mc­Caf­ferty also asked whether she re­mem­bered what con­di­tion she was in that night, not­ing that Mu­drick and Her­nan­dez said she seemed fine — “good to

go” when the Uber came.

Mc­Caf­ferty also asked about an ex-boyfriend that had tried to con­tact her that night and whether she had been up­set by that. The woman said, how­ever, that she was happy that she was no longer see­ing the man.

Ul­ti­mately, the woman said she had no rec­ol­lec­tion of hav­ing sex with El­gaa­fary, “where or when, in the car or in the woods, or on a side­walk” as Mc­Caf­ferty put it. “I just had a dif­fer­ent feel­ing, a bad feel­ing.”

Glick, a seven-year vet­eran of the state po­lice as­signed to the Lan­caster bar­racks, was able to iden­tify El­gaa­fary as the Uber driver who had picked her up the night of Feb. 10. Ac­cord­ing to a crim­i­nal com­plaint, the Egyp­tian na­tional ap­peared for an in­ter­view on March 2, and said he re­mem­bered pick­ing the woman up, and notic­ing that she ap­peared in­tox­i­cated. He said she vom­ited mul­ti­ple times dur­ing the ride, but de­nied hav­ing any sex­ual con­tact with her. He vol­un­tar­ily agreed to pro­vide Glick with a sam­ple of his DNA.

When Glick later re­ceived the re­sults of the ex­am­i­na­tion, he said the state po­lice foren­sic lab had de­tected ev­i­dence of sperm on the victim. A DNA anal­y­sis of that pos­i­tively iden­ti­fied his DNA in the ex­am­i­na­tion re­sults, al­legedly con­firm­ing that he had had sex with the woman.

He was ar­rested on Oct. 31, 2018, and is free on bail.

At the end of her tes­ti­mony, the woman told Shaw that there were flash­backs she had ex­pe­ri­enced in the months be­fore Glick told her the re­sults of the DNA tests.

In one, she feels some­one grab­bing her leg as they reached over the cen­ter con­sole of a car. An­other came with the vi­sion of be­ing in the back seat of a car, with a male fig­ure on top of her, hit­ting her head against the back­seat door of a car.

“I came out of it,” she said of the fleet­ing mem­ory. “And I just started cry­ing.”

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