A former Manhattan investment banker has been acquitted of charges he raped an Irish tourist at the Hamptons summer home he rented with his wife after meeting her at a nightclub.
Suffolk County Court Judge Barbara Kahn issued the verdict Wednesday following three weeks of sometimes emotional testimony in the non-jury trial.
Jason Lee, 38, had faced up to 25 years in prison if he had been convicted.
The key witness in the trial was the alleged victim, who returned from Europe to testify about the attack. Lee, who is married, did not testify.
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Prosecutors said Lee and a friend took the 20-year-old woman, her brother and her friend to his house to continue partying after a night of drinking in August 2013. Lee had been celebrating his birthday at the nightclub.
His wife, Alicia, was at the couple's Manhattan home the night of the party on eastern Long Island. She has accompanied him to court throughout the trial.
The woman said that when she went to a bathroom to change out of wet clothes following a moonlight swim in Lee's backyard pool, 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, had argued the sex was consensual.
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 events and what she was wearing in the bathroom when she testified before a grand jury two years ago and her trial testimony this month.
A police officer testified at the trial that when she was called to Lee's home early on a Sunday morning to investigate an unfounded claim of a stolen car, the victim's brother informed her that his sister was troubled by something that happened earlier in the home. The police officer said that is when the victim told her that Lee had raped her.
He was found by police hiding in the back of his SUV and was arrested later that afternoon.
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 has been widely followed by Irish media.
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.