Monday 24 October 2016

Bank exec Jason Lee found not guilty of raping Irish J1 student


Jason Lee, 38, from Manhattan, arrives at Suffolk County in Riverhead Wednesday morning with his wife
Jason Lee, 38, from Manhattan, arrives at Suffolk County in Riverhead Wednesday morning with his wife

A former Goldman Sachs executive has been found not guilty of raping a 20-year-old Irish student at his luxury rental house in the Hamptons, in New York State.

Judge Barbara Kahn said that the prosecution had a "heavy burden" to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr Lee was guilty and they had failed to do so.

Judge Kahn yesterday said that she had been "deprived" of the opportunity to hear key testimony and "weigh the evidence of an important witness".

The brother of the student at the centre of the case, who she had been visiting in Montauk that night, hadn't returned to the US to testify, because he had exams and a job contract.

Lee (38), who waived his right to a jury trial, remained motionless as the verdict was read out and he was acquitted of rape, sexual misconduct and assault.

He denied all charges.

Lee was arrested at the home he rented with his wife in East Hampton, accused of sexually assaulting the J1 student in the bathroom on August 20, 2013, while her friend and brother partied nearby.

The pair met at local nightclub, Georgica, in East Hampton, before returning to Lee's $33,000-a-month rental property after closing at 4am on that morning. Police were called to the house by a friend of Mr Lee to deal with a separate incident.

Lawyers for Lee claimed that the pair had engaged in consensual sex after a night partying together, but the student offended her friend's "cultural sensibilities" when she emerged from the bathroom.


Lee's lawyer Andrew Lankler speculated in closing arguments that the student's brother may not have been aware that she was sexually active or may not have been able to "handle" his sister having a "sexual liaison with an older man of Asian descent".

The woman at the centre of the case travelled to New York to testify and said that her brother would do anything for her, but had to sit exams.

Prosecutor Kerriann Kelly told Judge Kahn that the man was contractually bound to start a job in London immediately after graduating and his education would be "detrimentally harmed" if he travelled to the US.

Mr Lankler successfully argued that there was the "basis for reasonable doubt" and the inconsistencies in the student's testimony were "overwhelming" as well as the lack of physical evidence found at the scene.

Outside court, Mr Lee stood behind his attorney Edward Burke Jr, who gave a brief statement saying that his team were deeply troubled that a "false accusation" had gone "this far".

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