Judge "deprived" of hearing alleged rape victim's brother give evidence in Jason Lee trial

The Long Island judge who acquitted Jason Lee of raping an Irish J1 student in the summer of 2013 said the court was "deprived" of hearing from the brother of the young woman at the centre of the three-week trial.

Judge "deprived" of hearing alleged rape victim's brother give evidence in Jason Lee trial

By John Riordan, New York

The Long Island judge who acquitted Jason Lee of raping an Irish J1 student in the summer of 2013 said the court was "deprived" of hearing from the brother of the young woman at the centre of the three-week trial.

Judge Barbara Kahn said the prosecution had done all it could do to compel the Irish student to travel over for the trial but that he "refused to appear" due to college work.

Finding Jason Lee not guilty on three counts - rape in the first degree, sexual misconduct and assault in the third degree - Judge Kahn said that the prosecution did not meet the "heavy burden of proof" required for a conviction.

"We made every effort possible," Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Scota said on behalf of the prosecution afterwards.

"Both of the prosecutors were in touch with the brother constantly urging him to come forward. He gave us excuses which I believe ... with respect to his education and he chose not to come forward.

"I don't think that really hurt the case, quite frankly, because the judge had the Grand Jury minutes and she had the statement of the brother that was introduced into evidence. I can't account for the judge's thinking. We disagree. That's all I can say."

Mr Lee was arrested in East Hampton on August 20, 2013, the day after his 36th birthday and was charged with rape of a young Irish woman who was among a group of friends invited back to the $33,000 summer home being rented by the former Goldman Sachs investment banker and his wife who was not present on the night in question.

She had been working for the summer elsewhere in the US and was visiting her brother in the resort town of Montauk prior to returning to Ireland.

It was alleged that Mr Lee attacked the young woman in a downstairs bathroom but his lawyer Andrew Lankler argued that the sex was consensual.

The alleged victim gave tearful testimony just over two weeks ago as did her friend but neither were present in the court for the verdict.

She was identified during the trial by her first name only although on one occasion, one lawyer inadvertedly revealed her surname. The victim's brother and friends were also named but their home address in Ireland was never mentioned.

Audio of phone calls made to police on the night in question demonstrated a chaotic scene during which a friend of Mr Lee was alleging his car was stolen by another Irish student while the brother insisted the police investigate a "more important situation than a [vehicle]".

According to the young woman, her brother insisted she speak to the police when they arrived and subsequently gave his own statement to the police and a Grand Jury.

In spite of repeated attempts by prosecuting lawyer Kerriann Kelly, the brother's ultimate refusal to take the stand played an "important" role in the judge's relatively quick decision to acquit.

Mr Lankler argued at the beginning of the case that the "trial was a product of a rushed investigation and a rushed indictment" and also that there were

"enormous inconsistencies" in the accusation.

Lee, who left Goldman Sachs in 2014 having worked in the equity capital markets department, had opted for a non-jury trial, a decision which paid off yesterday in front of a packed courtroom.

After his lawyer spoke briefly to the media outside the courtroom, Jason Lee was driven away in a waiting black jeep.

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