A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. managing director sat at the defense table in a Long Island courtroom as his lawyer and a prosecutor sparred over whether he was wrongfully charged with raping a 20-year-old woman at his Hamptons beach house.
Jason Lee’s attorney, Andrew Lankler, said Wednesday the case is the “product of a rushed investigation and a rushed indictment” and “begs more questions than it answers.” Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Keriann Kelly countered Lee was intent on a sexual liaison that night in August 2013, and that the alleged rape was the result.
Lee, 38, whose trial in Riverhead began Wednesday not far from the summer home he rented for $33,000 a month, is charged with assaulting the waitress during a party at the house. His attorneys contend the encounter was consensual.
Prosecutors alleged that Lee, naked, pursued the woman into a bathroom at the beach house that night. Today, as Lee sat taking notes, dressed in a suit and tie, Kelly told the judge presiding over the trial that he wasn’t the same man the woman met that night.
“What she encountered was a man who wanted one and one thing only -- sex,” Kelly said in her opening statement. “And he used her to get it.”
Having pleaded not guilty, Lee waived his right to have his case heard by a jury, leaving his fate in the hands of New York State Supreme Court Justice Barbara Kahn.
Prosecutors took the case to the grand jury less than 30 hours after the encounter despite “obvious and serious inconsistencies” in the facts, Lankler said.
“This is not a case about a rape in some back alley between people who are completely unknown to each other,” Lankler told Kahn. “This is completely consistent with the circumstances under which consensual sex occurs. Perhaps regrettable consensual sex, but consensual sex.”
And while the bathroom where the alleged rape occurred was less than 15 feet from where other guests were, and the waitress maintains she yelled for her friend, no witnesses will testify that they heard anything, Lankler alleged.
Lee and his friends met the woman at a Hamptons hotspot, buying drinks for her and her friends. Later they invited the woman and her companions back to Lee’s four-bedroom, three-bathroom rental.
The waitress was changing in the bathroom when Lee forced his way in, Kelly said. She tried to keep the door closed, pushing back so hard that she left her fingerprints on it, but she wasn’t strong enough, the prosecutor said.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Lee had been with Goldman Sachs since March 1998, according to Financial Industry Regulatory Authority records. He was promoted in 2008 to managing director, the firm’s second-highest rank.
Lee was head of convertibles at the New York-based bank, according to a person familiar with the matter who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about it.
According to a biography posted on the website of a 2009 Milken Institute conference where Lee was a scheduled speaker, he managed convertible and equity derivative origination for financial institutions, health care, and consumer and retail companies, and led many of the firm’s most complicated financing and risk-management transactions for corporate clients.
Michael DuVally, a spokesman for Goldman Sachs, has declined to comment on the case.
The woman Lee met is a native of Ireland who was working in a nearby state. She had come to the Hamptons to visit her brother, who was working there for the summer, prosecutors said.
Lee also faces lesser included counts, third-degree assault and sexual misconduct, which carry a maximum one year sentence.
The case is New York v. Lee, 02053/2013, New York State Supreme Court, Suffolk County (Riverhead).