Joseph Ligidakis was a lonely man, fresh from prison and in the middle of a divorce when he visited prostitutes in Scottsdale and Phoenix in July 2003.
But he didn’t rape them or attempt to as the women and prosecutors allege, Ligidakis said on the witness stand Thursday in Maricopa County Superior Court.
Ligidakis, 30, claimed he never met one Phoenix prostitute even though he called her eight times before she was attacked. He also admitted to stealing the cell phones of two women — one as payback for ripping him off and the other after she threw the phone at him for taking his money back after five minutes of sex.
And he acknowledged meeting a fourth woman who accuses him of attacking her, but he claimed he left her Scottsdale hotel room after two minutes because he felt uneasy being there, which left her angry and demanding partial payment.
Prosecutor Suzanne Cohen told jurors in closing arguments that Ligidakis’ statements were lies made to explain the damning testimony against him.
"The defendant just wants us to believe he’s got seriously bad luck when it comes to (prostitutes)," she said.
A grand jury indicted Ligidakis Dec. 2, 2003, on 23 counts of sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, theft, burglary and kidnapping involving five prostitutes.
The indictment alleges a monthlong spree of rapes and an attempted rape in July 2003.
The trial jury will have to consider 17 counts pertaining to four victims when it begins deliberating.
Five counts were dropped when one victim couldn’t be found for trial and an aggravated assault charge was dropped, Cohen said.
Defense attorney Joseph Charles said three of the women made false claims against his client because they were vindictive and angry and one failed to pick him out of a photo lineup.
Women who make their living dishonestly are not to be believed, Charles said.
"Truth is not in their vocabulary," he said.