Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Managing Director Jason Lee was found not guilty of raping a 20-year-old Irish student in 2013 at his beach house in New York’s Hamptons.
Lee, 38, of Manhattan, was acquitted following a trial on eastern Long Island, just a few miles from the East Hampton luxury rental where the incident occurred. The woman alleged that Lee raped her in the bathroom on the night of his 37th birthday, after meeting her at a now-closed nightclub in nearby Wainscott. Lee, who elected to be tried by a judge instead of a jury, said the encounter was consensual.
“This was a false accusation,” Lee’s attorney Edward Burke Jr. told reporters after the verdict. “We are deeply troubled that the matter went this far. The evidence was clear from day one and it took the judge less than 24 hours to dismiss all the charges.”
New York State Supreme Court Justice Barbara Kahn, who presided over the trial, said on Wednesday that she wasn’t required to give reasons for her decision and wouldn’t do so.
The rape charge carried a sentence of as long as 25 years in prison. Kahn also found Lee not guilty of assault and not guilty of sexual misconduct.
The alleged victim said during the trial that she was nearing the end of a summer stint at a yogurt stand in South Carolina while on a work visa when she traveled to Long Island. She said she went with friends to visit her brother and “see the big city that everyone talks about.”
The woman’s brother may have been upset that she ended up having a “very adult liaison” with an older man of Asian descent and that led to the rape charges, Lee’s lawyer Andrew Lankler told the judge in his closing argument Tuesday.
Kahn noted in handing down the verdict that the “court was deprived” of an opportunity to hear from the woman’s brother.
Thomas Spota, Suffolk County District Attorney, said prosecutors were in touch with the brother constantly and urged him to come forward.
“He chose not to come forward,” Spota said. “I don’t think that really hurt the case.”
Prosecutors presented more than a dozen witnesses during the trial, which began April 8, including East Hampton police officers and detectives, investigators from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, the nurse who examined the woman at a nearby hospital, analysts from the county crime laboratory, the alleged victim and her friend.
Lee didn’t testify.
Inconsistencies in the woman’s story were enough to raise reasonable doubt, Lankler told the judge in his closing argument Tuesday.
She gave differing versions of the alleged attack, where she got her clothes and photos of Lee showed no scratches to his face or body, Lankler had told the judge.
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. Managing directors at the bank typically receive a base salary of $500,000 and often receive bonuses that can boost total compensation into the millions of dollars.
Lee was head of convertibles at the New York-based bank. He was suspended after his arrest and later fired, according to a person familiar with the matter who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.
David Wells, a spokesman for Goldman Sachs, declined to comment on Lee’s case.
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.
The case is New York v. Lee, 02053/2013, New York State Supreme Court, Suffolk County (Riverhead).