Goldman Sachs Exec Arraigned on Rape Charge

Jason Lee
Jason Lee, second from the left, and his wife, Alicia Lee, third from left, entered Suffolk County Criminal Court this morning before Mr. Lee's arraignment on a first-degree rape charge and two other charges stemming from an incident in East Hampton on Aug. 20. Mr. Lee, flanked by two of his attorneys, Melissa Aguanno and Brian De Sessa, faces a minimum of five years in state prison if convicted on the rape charge. T.E. McMorrow

Jason Lee, a Goldman Sachs managing director accused of raping a 20-year-old Irish student in East Hampton early on Aug. 20, his birthday, was arraigned in Suffolk County Criminal Court Friday on a charge of first-degree rape and two misdemeanor charges: assault in the third degree and sexual misconduct.

If convicted of the felony charge, Mr. Lee faces a mandatory sentence of between 5 and 25 years in state prison.

Standing in front of Justice Barbara Kahn, wearing a dark suit, Mr. Lee was silent as the justice set bail at $100,000 and ordered Mr. Lee to surrender his passport. Mr. Lee was originally arraigned in East Hampton Town Justice Court on Aug. 21, at which time his wife posted $20,000 cash bail. That amount was deducted from the new bail, and Mr. Lee's wife, Alicia Lee, brought the $80,000 in cash to the courthouse, handing it to Mr. Lee's attorney, Edward Burke Jr., who in turn gave it to a court clerk.

Mr. Lee was ordered to sit in the corner of the courtroom, with a guard watching him, while the cash was counted out in a back room of the courthouse. It took 45 minutes for it to be counted. A clerk brought Mr. Lee a receipt for the cash, which he signed with a single stroke of his pen and was free to go.

Mr. Lee spoke only one word during the arraignment, when he responded to Justice Kahn's warning that if he did not appear for every court appearance his bail would be forfeited and he would be arrested again. The justice asked him if he understood, and Mr. Lee replied in a barely audible voice, "Yes."

The rape was said to have taken place after a night of drinking with a friend of Mr. Lee's, Rene Duncan, at Georgica restaurant in Wainscott. It was there, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, that the two men met five Irish students.

The alleged victim, a source involved with the investigation told The East Hampton Star in the days after the initial arrest, was one of the hundreds of Irish students who summer in resort towns across the Northeast. Mr. Spota confirmed that she was Irish, and that she has since returned to that country. Mr. Spota said that the woman, whose identity is being withheld, had worked in another state for the summer and had come to East Hampton to meet her brother, who had worked on the East End. Both were scheduled to fly home the next day.

When Georgica closed for the night in the early morning hours of Aug. 20, Mr. Lee invited the Irish students to join him at a house on Clover Leaf Lane in East Hampton that he had rented with his wife for the month of August. Mr. Lee, Mr. Duncan (who has not been implicated in any crime), and five students went to the house, where they continued partying, now in the backyard pool.

"The victim told police Lee was naked when he attempted to follow her into a bathroom," Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Mr. Spota, said in a statement released Friday morning. "She said as she tried to close the door, Lee shoved it open with enough force to cause her to fall to the floor, where Lee immediately pinned her," Mr. Clifford said.

Using his forearm, according to the original arrest report, Mr. Lee pressed her to the ground and raped her.

Mr. Clifford's statement repeated these details and asserted that the 20-year-old struggled to get free, finally kneeing Mr. Lee in the groin and escaping.

During Mr. Spota's press conference, he said that the woman "was examined by a nurse who is specially trained in treating sexual injuries," and that "there was bruising on her body."

In addition, Mr. Spota said that the woman immediately told her brother and others in the party about the alleged rape.

All of this might never have been reported except that Mr. Duncan had agreed to let one of the students drive another student home in Mr. Duncan's 2004 GMC Yukon Denali. When the student didn't return, the source who spoke to The Star in August said, Mr. Duncan called the police.

The source also said that Mr. Lee panicked when he heard that his friend had called the police, and hid in the back seat of his Range Rover, which was parked in the driveway.

The police responded quickly to the report of a stolen car. There had been a rash of car thefts in the area at that time. But the alleged victim's brother pulled a female officer aside and told her that his sister had been attacked, the source said.

Detectives were summoned to the scene and, after speaking with the alleged victim, began the search for Mr. Lee. Mr. Spota said that it took 45 minutes for police to find him, still hiding in the back seat of his car, which had heavily tinted windows.

Knowing that the woman was due to fly home, Mr. Spota's office immediately began the grand jury process and took her to the proceedings. Originally, Mr. Lee was charged only with rape, but apparently because of the bruising on the woman, the charge of assault in the third degree was added, along with sexual misconduct. The assault charge specifically alleges that Mr. Lee did intend to injure the woman, and that she was physically injured.

Speaking to the press outside the courtroom, Mr. Lee's attorney, Mr. Burke, decried the "rush" to indict his client. Mr. Burke urged that there not be a rush to judgment in the case. Asked if the sex between the two was consensual, Mr. Burke responded, "Yes, it was."

He said that the process of discovery had just begun and that he had not yet seen the medical rape-test results.

Mr. Lee walked out of the courthouse with his wife and an older woman. He did not speak to the press.

Mr. Spota was asked if the alleged victim would return to testify during a trial.

"Yes, she will," he said.