Jason Lee, a 38-year-old former New York City investment banker, was cleared from charges of raping an Irish tourist at his Long Island home after meeting her at a Hamptons nightclub.
Following three weeks of an emotional non-jury trial, Suffolk County Court Judge Barbara Kahn finally issued the verdict in favor of Lee. If convicted, he would have been sentenced to 25 years in jail.
The key witness in the Hamptons rape trial was the victim herself. The 22-year-old girl returned to Europe to give evidence about the alleged incident.
“This was a false accusation and we’re deeply troubled that this matter went this far,” Edward Burke Jr., Lee’s attorney, told reporters. “The evidence was clear from day one and it took the judge less than 24 hours to render a verdict and dismiss all of these charges.”
But Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota was dissatisfied with the verdict, and he strongly believes that the charge against Lee is true.
“I think the evidence clearly proved the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” Spota said. “We tried.”
The alleged victim told the court how a naked Lee forced himself on her while she was changing clothes. She claimed that Lee sexually attacked her on Aug 2013.
“He pulled up my dress and pulled off my underwear,” the alleged victim testified. She said she was eventually able to force the assault to end. “With every ounce of strength I had in me, I kneed him in the groin.”
The news was in the limelight for several months and was widely covered by the Irish media. Lee, who is married, did not produce evidence during the trial. His wife accompanied him in every proceeding of the trial.
At the end of the verdict, defence attorney Andrew Lankler said that the victim’s claim was baseless as “there is not a scratch on him,” contradictory to the alleged “violent struggle that lasted a minute and a half.”
After the trial, Lee drove away in his SUV without commenting on the verdict.