The 21-year-old Irishwoman who has accused a Manhattan investment banker of raping her in his Wainscott summer home in August 2013 testified at his trial on Tuesday that she initially thought he was “joking around” when he tried to push his way, naked, into the bathroom where she was changing clothes.
She said it wasn’t until she tried to push the bathroom door shut again—and, she said, Jason Lee pushed back, hard enough to cause her to fall to the bathroom floor, and then pounced on top of her—that she realized his intentions were less than playful.
“The door opened, and I thought it was Fiona, but … it wasn’t her,” the victim said, referring to a friend who had gone to the house that night with her and her brother after meeting Mr. Lee, whom she referred to as “Jay,” and another man at the Georgica nightclub in Wainscott.
“Jay was on the other side of the door, and he had no clothes on. I was kind of laughing, like, what are you doing? I tried to close the door, but he was pushing from the other side. I said … ‘I know it’s your house, but it’s not okay to do that.’”
After she lost her balance and fell to the floor, the next thing she could recall, she said, was Mr. Lee lying on top of her, holding her arms above her head with his hands. “I struggled at first, because I really didn’t understand what was happening,” she said. “I couldn’t understand why, when you’re telling someone to get off of you, they wouldn’t do it.”
She then recounted how, when she called out for her friend Fiona, the man clasped one hand over her mouth, holding her hand down with his elbow, and used his other hand to lift her dress and pull down her underwear. She said she clawed to pull the underwear back up, scratching her own leg with her fingernail, an injury noted in the police report on the incident.
The victim, who said intercourse did take place briefly, was able to end the attack after several moments, she told prosecutors: “With every ounce of strength I had left inside me, I put my knee up and kneed him.”
The woman, identified by attorneys only by her first name, Dana, had wiped away tears with trembling hands as she stepped into the witness stand on Tuesday afternoon.
It was the fifth day of testimony in the trial of Mr. Lee, 38, a former Goldman Sachs executive who is facing a felony first-degree rape charge, as well as two lesser charges of misdemeanor assault and sexual misconduct. If convicted of the most serious charge, he faces up to 25 years in prison.
On Tuesday, she was asked if one of two American men who had approached her and four Irish friends in Georgica, the nightclub, earlier that night was in the courtroom. After hanging her head for several long moments, and with some gentle prodding from Assistant District Attorney Kerriann Kelly, the young woman pushed aside a dangling strand of her sandy brown hair and shot a split-second glance at the defense table, identifying Mr. Lee only as the man “sitting beside the man with gray hair,” his defense attorney Andrew Lankler.
She said he had introduced himself that night as Jay and that she and her friend Fiona had been flatteringly amused that two grown men in a “fancy” nightclub would have shown such interest in the then 20-year-old girls. She said they were not attracted to the men but had agreed to go back to Mr. Lee’s house at her brother’s insistence when they had been unable to get a cab as the nightclub closed.
“It was fine, everybody was getting along, there was no problems,” she said of the early morning escapades. “It’s out of the ordinary for us to see a swimming pool at somebody’s house. Fiona took her skirt and top off and jumped in the pool.” The victim said she followed her friend into the pool, wearing her underwear and bra.
On the first day of the trial, last Wednesday, April 8, Ms. Kelly offered an opening statement soaked with contempt as she graphically previewed for Acting State Supreme Court Justice Barbara Kahn the young Irishwoman’s claims against Mr. Lee.
“That is not the same individual that Dana encountered,” Ms. Kelly said, pointing to the suit-clad defendant seated with four attorneys in the courtroom, scribbling notes and glancing up at her earnestly as she spoke. “What she encountered was a man who wanted one thing and one thing only: sex.
“She didn’t stop his disgusting, violent attack on her until she … was able to knee him in the genitals,” Ms. Kelly told Justice Kahn, a veteran family and criminal court judge who will serve as the sole arbiter of Mr. Lee’s guilt after he waived his right to a jury trial.
Ms. Kelly, the chief of the Suffolk County district attorney office’s Major Crimes Bureau, recounted for the judge how Mr. Lee’s friend, Rene Duncan, had sparked the police involvement when he called police to report the theft of his car, which he had loaned to one of the other Irish students to take home two other men they had met at the club. She highlighted police reports of how Mr. Lee had first tried to convince police officers that there was no reason for them to investigate the missing vehicle, but had then disappeared when officers began speaking to the visibly distraught victim.
Mr. Lankler, in his own opening statement on Wednesday, acknowledged that there had been an encounter between Mr. Lee and the young woman, and that the victim had clearly been upset by the events. He depicted how the night that started out with drinks and dancing migrated to Mr. Lee’s house, where clothes were stripped off for a swim in the pool.
Photos taken throughout the night, Mr. Lankler said, show Mr. Lee and the young woman together, smiling and in close contact on several occasions, both in the nightclub and after swimming at the house. “The facts and circumstances are exactly consistent with consensual sex,” the defense attorney said.
The attorney told Justice Kahn that exactly what happened between the two after those friendly moments may never be known for sure. But, he said, numerous inconsistencies in the accounts given to East Hampton Town Police, a slapdash investigation by detectives, and a rush to bring the case before a grand jury by prosecutors would make it clear that there should be sufficient reasonable doubt about whether Mr. Lee committed first-degree rape.
“Judge, you will never know beyond a reasonable doubt what happened between my client and Dana,” Mr. Lankler said. The prosecution, he said, is “asking you to come to a conclusion that you will not be able to, because you will not have a clear picture of what happened.”
Following the opening statements, Ms. Kelly and her co-counsel, Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Shalvey, called three East Hampton Town Police officers to testify about the events they witnessed at the Clover Leaf Lane home.
Officer Sarah Mortensen recalled arriving at the house, where Mr. Duncan had reported his SUV stolen, but was then approached by the victim’s brother, who said there was a more pressing matter than the missing vehicle and asked her to speak to his sister.
“He said his sister was really upset but didn’t know why,” Officer Mortensen testified. She then invited the young woman into her car, where the first tale of the alleged assault was recounted.
On Tuesday afternoon, the young woman said she had been reluctant to even speak with the policewoman at the time.
“I didn’t want anything to do with them, I just wanted to go home,” she said, but added that her brother sensed something serious had happened and insisted. “I felt like it was my fault. I shouldn’t have gotten in that car [at the nightclub],” she said.
Mr. Lee has been accompanied to the courtroom each day by his wife, Alicia, and other family members, along with his team of attorneys from Mr. Lankler’s firm, Baker Botts LLP of Manhattan, and Sag Harbor attorney Edward Burke Jr.