The Jason Lee rape trial and acquittal in Riverhead, Long Island brought up some disturbing issues surrounding the trial. Lee, 37, a former executive with Goldman Sachs, was acquitted of charges of raping a then 20-year-old Irish student.
The defense put forward by Lee’s lawyer trumpeted the stereotyping of the Irish when he claimed that “cultural” reasons --.i.e Irish Catholic upbringing -- were behind why the young woman brought the charges.
Defense attorney Andrew Lankler stated the young woman did not want to allow her brother to see she had sex with “an Asian.” He used the term "cultural sensitivities" to describe the reasons behind the rape charge which seems to mean Irish Catholic mores.
He stated that her brother, who was present at the Hamptons house on the night could not "handle" his sister having a "sexual liaison with an older man of Asian descent."
Even allowing for legal hyperbole it was quite a statement, one he got away with because of the curious refusal of the brother to testify.
I cannot imagine anyone from an Irish background , especially in the modern era, making a rape accusation based on Catholic guilt.
Are Catholic guilt and the presumption of racism really good defenses against rape charges?
The young woman, just 20 at the time and under the legal drinking age, ended up drinking in a Hamptons night club, returning to the nearby home of a stranger, swimming in her underwear in his swimming pool while Lee swam naked and then alleging rape subsequently in his bathroom.
It must have been a soul-destroying exercise to return to the US to testify in the trial and have her evidence of rape found not convincing by the judge who stated emphatically it did not pass the burden of proof.
At the very least, former Goldman Sachs executive Lee was a creep on the night, a married man out hunting for women, leaving his wife behind in Manhattan on his birthday.
He picked up a doubtless naive and likely inebriated young Irish girl and took her back to his $32,000 a month rented mansion. To say this was a matchup of unequals was putting it mildly.
In the end Lee was acquitted and the young Irish woman lost her case, but Lee remains far from a sympathetic figure given his actions on the night. It might not have been rape but it was certainly despicable behavior.
Did you find Lee's attorney's defense strategy insulting? Let us know what you think in the comment section, below.