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Investigator testifies she found earring in bathroom where prosecutors say East Hampton rape took place

Jason Lee arrives with his wife at the

Jason Lee arrives with his wife at the Suffolk County courthouse in Riverhead on Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Credit: James Carbone

A forensic scientist searching for evidence of a claimed rape at an East Hampton rental home two summers ago said she found a single, heart-shaped earring under some towels in the bathroom where prosecutors say the attack took place.

Suffolk prosecutors say Jason Lee, 38, a Manhattan investment banker who worked for Goldman Sachs, was naked when he forced himself into a bathroom at the home he was renting and raped an Irish tourist he met at a bar the night before while celebrating his birthday.

There has been no testimony yet on where the earring came from.

The woman, who has returned from Ireland and is expected to testify Tuesday, told police she was changing from a swimsuit back into her dress in the bathroom when Lee barged in and overpowered her in August 2013. Lee's defense has said the sex was consensual, noting his lack of injuries. Lee waived his right to a jury for the trial before Suffolk County Court Judge Barbara Kahn in Riverhead. Monday, during questioning by Assistant District Attorney Kerriann Kelly, forensic scientist Jennifer Tripoli of the Suffolk Crime Lab said the bathroom had several towels on the floor when she examined it.

"Underneath the towels was a little earring," Tripoli said. She said she found the pink earring near the sink, at the opposite end of the bathroom from the door.

Later, Tripoli said she used a light that detects phosphorescence to look for evidence of body fluids. The light detected three areas that might have had body fluids -- on the floor near the sink, on the tub and beneath the toilet seat, she said. She swabbed those areas and sent them to the lab for DNA testing, she said.

During cross-examination by defense attorney Andrew Lankler of Manhattan, Tripoli said she also looked for hairs and chipped fingernails in the bathroom, but found none. Tripoli said she and other investigators were asked to look for the woman's peach-colored dress and gray panties, but couldn't find them inside or outside the house on Clover Leaf Lane.

But in March 2014, seven months after the reported attack, a private investigator hired by the defense dropped off a box of potential evidence at the district attorney's office, Det. Investigator Peter Tartaglia testified. Among the items were a short, sleeveless pink dress and gray panties.

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