Wednesday 26 October 2016

​Irish J1 student tried 'with every ounce of strength I had inside me' to end alleged attack, New York rape trial hears

Orlaith Farrell New York

Published 14/04/2015 | 20:12

Jason Lee is accused of raping an Irish J1 student
Jason Lee is accused of raping an Irish J1 student

The young Irish woman at the center of a New York rape trial has described how “with every ounce of strength I had inside me” she pulled her knee up and kicked her alleged assailant in the groin to bring and an end to her terrifying attack.

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A former Goldman Sachs exec is accused of raping the then 20 year old after a night in an East Hampton nightclub in August 2013, a charge he denies.

Jason Lee was arrested at the luxury home he rented with his wife in East Hampton, accused of sexually assaulting a J1 student in the bathroom while her friend and brother partied nearby.

The 22 year old dropped her head and cried as she was asked to identify Mr Lee in Suffolk County Criminal Court.

The woman had been working in the US for the summer and was visiting her brother in the Hamptons for a few days on her way back to Ireland to return to college.

On the second night of their trip, the student along with her friends and her brother went to the Georgica nightclub in East Hampton, which the woman described in court as “very fancy, too fancy for us.”

When the woman and her friend were approached by two older men, Mr Lee and his friend Rene Duncan, they thought it was funny she said. “We were just students, we didn’t have much to offer.”

After closing, the woman returned with Lee and some friends, including her brother to Mr Lee’s $33,000 a month rental property.

The woman and her friend jumped in to the pool before returning to the kitchen to drink champagne, “that was going around” and eat pizza. Everything “was fine” she added.

Her brother became keen to leave at that point and the student walked to the bathroom to get changed.

In there she became of Lee standing at the door naked, she told the Court, thinking “he’s just joking.”

Lee pushed the door and she tripped and fell back.  “He was on top of me,” she sobbed, “holding my hands each side of my head.”

The student said that initially she didn’t understand what was happening, and told him to get off  her.  She called her friend, but he put his hand over her mouth and told her to “shut the f*ck up” and raped her.

The woman said that she couldn’t bring herself to put her dress and underwear back on after the alleged attack because “they were disgusting,” and she just sat there “in disbelief.”

Police were called to the scene shortly after the alleged incident on a different matter and the student said that she didn’t want to talk to them, she just wanted “to go home.”

"I felt like it was my fault. I shouldn't have gotten in to the car. I should have just gone home. "

Earlier, the New York court heard testimony from the young woman's best friend, who said she found her “shaken" and "scared” after the alleged attack, "with tears in her eyes."

The alleged victim’s friend cried in Suffolk County Criminal Court as she described the events of the night of August 20th 2013 and how “we just cried” when her friend told her what had happened.

The two young women had come to the Hamptons to visit the alleged victim's brother after spending a summer in the US working and on their second night, along with friends went on a night out to the Georgica nightclub in East Hampton.

“Everyone was in good form, enjoying themselves,” the woman told the court.

The group of students met the banker, after the alleged victim's friend met Jason Lee’s friend, Rene Duncan, and they kissed. The young women and her brother then joined the men at their table.

The group returned along with two other men to Mr Lee's rental property, once there a friend of the alleged victim's brother took Mr Duncan's car to drive two local men home.

Both women jumped in to the pool in their underwear, but didn’t remain in the water long, the woman’s friend told the Court. Mr Lee, who stripped naked, also jumped in to the pool.

When they emerged from the pool, the group ate food in the kitchen and chatted, she said.

They were in “good form” but the alleged victim’s brother noticed she wasn't there and they became “curious as to where she had got to.”

The search lasted “only a few minutes,” she said, when the alleged victim emerged from a door as they approached.

“She looked shaken, scared, she had tears in her eyes. Her eyes were blood shot,”  she told the Court.

Her brother asked her what was going on, and the student said that she “just wanted to go,” her friend said.

Around the same time, Mr Duncan who had lent his car to a friend of the group, became agitated about his vehicle, she said.

Mr Lee was trying to calm him down, telling him that there was “no need to call the police.” The former banker jumped in to his Range Rover, she said and told them; “I’m going to bring ye, come on.”

As the group waited on the front lawn of the house, “I observed her being really quiet. She was very shaken and scared and she just wanted to go.”

When police arrived at the scene, the student’s brother told an officer that something was wrong with his sister and she was taken to a squad car.

The woman asked to join her friend in the car a short time later and asked her what had happened in the house.  When she told her, “we just cried,” she told the Court.

When they emerged from the car,  “I walked over to Rene and told him that his friend was going to be in a lot of trouble.”

Defense lawyer, Andrew Lankler put it to the young woman that the group were drinking bottles of Absolut Vodka in the club on the night of the alleged incident and when questioned by Mr Lankler about a bottle of wine and champagne that was opened back at the house, the woman said she “didn’t believe I had any drinks at the house.”

As day four of the trial in Suffolk County Criminal Court began on Tuesday, prosecutor Kerriann Kelly told Judge Barbara Kahn that detectives escorting the young women on Monday night became aware they were being followed.

At the hotel where the women were staying, police were able to get the plate details, of one of two suspicious vehicles and matched them to that of a private investigator.

Ms Kelly reminded the Judge that an order of protection had already been issued for the alleged victim last year and third parties weren’t permitted to approach the woman.

Lawyer for the defense, Andrew Lankler said that he wanted to state “emphatically, clearly and unequivocally” that no one on the defense team, including his client Mr Lee had hired an investigator.

The trial continues.

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