Judge set to announce Hamptons rape case verdict Wednesday

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Posted: Apr 28, 2015 6:30 PM
Judge set to announce Hamptons rape case verdict Wednesday

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (AP) — A judge hearing a non-jury trial in the case of a former New York City investment banker charged with raping an Irish tourist he met at a Hamptons nightclub on Long Island has said she will announce her verdict Wednesday.

Jason Lee, 38, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree rape, sexual misconduct and assault in the August 2013 incident that prosecutors say happened in the bathroom of his East Hampton rental home. Lee, who is free on $100,000 bail, could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

He is accused of meeting a 20-year-old Irish tourist at a nightclub while celebrating his birthday. Prosecutors say he took the woman, her brother and a friend to his house to continue partying after a night of drinking.

The woman, who returned from Europe to testify in the three-week-long trial, said that while in the bathroom, a naked Lee forced his way in, knocking her to the ground as she fought to keep the door shut. She said he jumped on top of her and sexually assaulted her, at one point putting his hand over her mouth and telling her to be quiet.

"He pulled up my dress and pulled off my underwear," the woman testified.

She said she eventually was able to force the assault to end: "With every ounce of strength I had in me, I kneed him in the groin."

Lee's attorney, Andrew Lankler, has said the sex was consensual. Lee, who is married, did not testify. His wife Alicia was at the couple's Manhattan home the night of the party. She has accompanied him to court throughout the trial.

Lee worked for Goldman Sachs and a spokesman there said Lee left the firm sometime last year; he had worked in the equity capital markets department. His current employment status was not clear.

During closing arguments Tuesday, Lankler said that following Lee's arrest, authorities found no evidence to substantiate the woman's claims that she fought him off during the struggle.

"There is not a scratch on him," Lankler said of the alleged "violent struggle that lasted a minute and a half."

He also cited what he said were inconsistencies with the woman's version of the timeline of events while she was in the bathroom when she testified before a grand jury two years ago and her trial testimony this month.

Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Kerriann Kelly urged the judge during her summations on Tuesday to gauge the sincerity of the woman's emotional testimony on the witness stand, as well as Lee's actions following the alleged assault. Kelly noted that Lee, who was found by police hiding in the back of his SUV in a fetal position, had made more than 49 calls to friends and others while hiding in the SUV for several hours after police began investigating.

"He knew he had done a really bad thing," Kelly said.

Kelly said the woman admitted that prior to the alleged assault she and her girlfriend went swimming in Lee's pool clad only in their bras and underwear. She admitted to having more than six drinks at the nightclub, as well as champagne at Lee's house.

"She embraced the truth," during her testimony, Kelly said.

The woman said she had worked during the summer of 2013 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and was visiting with her brother in Montauk, New York, during her final days in the United States. She said other than her brother, "nobody at home knows what happened" during the visit to the Hamptons, a summer playground for the rich and famous about 100 miles east of New York City.

The case is being widely followed by Irish media.