Jason Lee’s defense attorney, Andrew Lankler, rested his case on Wednesday afternoon, having called just three witnesses to the stand.
Because of scheduling conflicts, the trial was adjourned until next Tuesday morning, April 28, at which time the attorneys will presumably present their closing summations before the question of Mr. Lee’s guilt is left to Supreme Court Justice Barbara Kahn to decide.
The defense’s case consisted of just a few hours of testimony by a forensic scientist, a former East Hampton Town Police detective and a private investigator.
Before resting, Mr. Lankler asked that the Grand Jury testimony of the alleged victim’s brother, who refused to return to the U.S. to testify, be included in the record of the trial.
Mr. Lee is accused of raping a college student from Ireland in his Wainscott vacation rental in August 2013. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
The Suffolk County District Attorney’s office rested its case against accused rapist Jason Lee early this week following testimony focusing on graphic descriptions of bruises and abrasions on the body of the then 20-year-old woman who has said that Mr. Lee raped her in 2013.
The prosecution rested on Monday morning, after seven days of testimony by witnesses, including a tearful recounting of the event by the accuser.
Mr. Lee’s defense team will now take up its case, which is expected to focus on raising doubts about the details of the woman’s story and the case built by police and DA’s office investigators in the hours following the alleged early morning assault.
After a break in testimony on Tuesday, the trial was set to resume on Wednesday.
Mr. Lee, a former investment banker who was 37 years old at the time of the alleged rape, has claimed the sex was consensual, but he is not expected to take the stand.
The defense will have to convince State Supreme Court Justice Barbara Kahn that there is room for reasonable doubt that Mr. Lee committed rape when he had sex with the 20-year-old Irish college student in the bathroom of his rented summer house in 2013. The prosecution has said he forced his way into the bathroom and held her down and raped her. The defense has claimed the sex was consensual.
On Monday afternoon, lead defense attorney Andrew Lankler called a forensic pathologist as the defense’s first witness, in an effort to show that bruises on the woman’s back and thigh were old injuries, sustained prior to the morning of August 20, 2013.
Two days of testimony earlier, a specially trained sexual assault nurse had testified that those bruises, and other injuries on the body of the young woman, were consistent with the description of the assault the woman gave police that morning and testified to in the courtroom 20 months later.
During a forensic examination at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, about six hours after the woman said the rape occurred, nurse Tara Accavallo made note of a number of small scratches on one of the woman’s arms, a large bruise on her hip, a smaller one on her back with a still raw abrasion in the middle of it, and a long scratch running across her leg above her knee.
The woman has said that she gave herself the scratch while struggling with Jason Lee on the floor as he pulled her underwear off. In her testimony last week, the now 21 year old said that Mr. Lee first shoved his way, naked, into the bathroom, knocking her to the floor, and then pounced on top of her, holding her down. During her testimony on Tuesday, she said she lost the struggle long enough for him to rape her, although she ultimately repelled him with a well-placed knee.
Several hours later, East Hampton Town Police officers transported the woman to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, the only hospital in the region that has a dedicated sexual assault examination room, where she was met by Ms. Accavallo, a certified sexual assault nurse examiner.
Ms. Accavallo said that her examination revealed signs of injury around the woman’s groin that were “consistent” with her claims of having been raped.
Ms. Accavallo, on Thursday, said she has been a registered nurse for 23 years, and had conducted 25 rape examinations since being certified as a sexual assault nurse examiner just three months prior to her examination of the young Irish woman. She said the examination, which is often traumatic for victims, took four hours.
“She was shaking very, very badly throughout the exam and crying intermittently,” Ms. Accavallo testified.
Under cross examination by Mr. Lee’s defense attorney, Andrew Lankler, Ms. Accavallo acknowledged, however, that it is possible for the sort of genital abrasions that she noted on the victim to occur during consensual sex. She also said that it is difficult to tell how old a bruise is, after Mr. Lankler asked if the bruise on the woman’s back, shown in pictures in the courtroom, looked like an old injury. The nurse said she had asked the woman if any of the injuries were pre-existing and she had said they were not.
Mr. Lankler also asked if the woman showed any signs of bruising or abrasions on her wrists, where she has said Mr. Lee held her when he first leaped on top of her, or around her mouth, which the woman has said he clasped his hand over when she tried to shout for help from a friend in another room. The nurse said there were no signs of marks on her wrist, chest or mouth.
Mr. Lee’s charges include felony rape and misdemeanor assault and sexual misconduct.
The young woman, who lives in Ireland, had been on the East End for just two days when the encounter with Mr. Lee occurred. She had spent the summer working in South Carolina and had stopped in New York to visit her brother, who was working in Montauk. The pair and three other friends had gone to the Georgica nightclub in Wainscott and met Mr. Lee and a friend of his, Rene Duncan. Sometime after 4 a.m., the group returned to Mr. Lee’s house where they swam in the pool and drank champagne while sitting on kitchen counters. The woman has said the attack occurred when she went into one of the bathrooms to change back into the dress she had worn out the night before.
In other testimony, a county investigator displayed Mr. Lee’s cell phone records from that night and morning, showing that he made a number of calls to a cab company and his then employer, investment banking giant Goldman Sachs, in the two hours between when police arrived at the house and when he was found curled up in the backseat of his Range Rover.