The accuser said in court Friday that Scott Strolla drugged her, then took photos of her nude body before raping her. His attorney said the encounter was ’100 percent’ consensual.
WEST PALM BEACH - As she hid behind bushes in an upscale gated community near Palm Beach Gardens three years ago, a 24-year-old woman answered a 911 operator’s question regarding the nature of her emergency by blurting out, “I just got raped.”
The woman, now 28, went on to tell authorities how Scott Strolla, a Palm Beach Gardens podiatrist, drugged her on April 3, 2016, while they were partying on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach, and that she was unconscious when he took photos of her nude body before sexually assaulting her.
On Friday, the woman repeated her story in a courtroom where Strolla, 53, is on trial on charges of sexual battery and video voyeurism that could send him to prison for 60 years.
Defense attorney Cory Strolla, Scott Strolla’s younger brother, said during opening arguments that the sex between his brother and the victim was "100 percent" consensual and that the accuser made up the story because her boyfriend caught her cheating.
"You’re going to find zero evidence that she was drugged," Cory Strolla told the jury of five women and two men. The victim, Strolla said, "knew exactly what was going on."
During a motion hearing in July, it was revealed that toxicology reports showed no traces of drugs in the woman’s system.
The woman, who is not being named by The Palm Beach Post because of the alleged crime’s nature, testified for two hours Friday. She recounted getting "really sick" at a Clematis Street bar, then not remembering much after that until she found herself in Strolla’s bedroom.
"Groggy" and feeling "incapacitated," the woman said she awoke to Strolla removing her clothes and taking photos of her nude body. Unable to get up, the woman said she was helpless as Strolla sexually battered her.
"I sensed what was going on," the accuser said. "I just couldn’t do anything about it."
Strolla never threatened her or kept her from leaving his waterfront home, the woman said. The defendant even retrieved her clothes and cellphone, she testified.
But the woman, who said she weighs 103 pounds, was scared of Strolla and didn’t start screaming or sprint out of the house because, "I don’t know what he’s capable of if I make the scene."
The woman texted her boyfriend, but told Strolla she was contacting Uber to pick her up. About 20 minutes later, the woman said she told Strolla her ride had arrived and she quickly left the house.
After running some distance, the woman jumped behind bushes and called 911. With no idea where she was, it took Palm Beach County deputies around 10 minutes to find her on Treasure Isle Drive in the Mariner’s Cove community where Strolla lives. She sobbed audibly as the 911 tape was played in court.
The defense said in its opening statement that the woman was coherent enough to correct spelling on dozens of text messages she sent her boyfriend that night. Cory Strolla said that surveillance-camera video will show the woman hand in hand with Scott Strolla and walking "perfectly fine" in high-heel shoes before the alleged assault.
The woman was not Strolla’s patient and they did not know each other before the night of the alleged sexual assault, attorneys said.
The trial is expected to last until the end of next week, Circuit Judge Daliah Weiss said.