Justin Lee was no Don Juan but just a thug

He may have bedded scores of women, but 28-year-old Justin Lee was no Don Juan.

The socialite, sentenced to more than 22 years' jail last week for having non-consensual sex with nine women and filming 15 women having sex with him, was a thuggish opportunist who used alcohol rather than charm to hook his prey, before spiriting the women to his apartment and forcing himself on them.

He even taunted one of them with the videos he had taken of her in compromising positions, and threatened another with bodily harm when she exposed him.

"I'll make you die a horrible death," he told her. "Taipei is only so big; you'd better watch out."

These details were revealed in the verdict that followed a closed-door, seven-month trial of the man labelled a "sex depraved rich kid" by the media. His victims, according to a 19-page condensed version of the verdict released by the Taipei District Court, included not just women he picked up at nightspots but also his own friends, girlfriends and even friends of his girlfriends.

There are so many victims that the court used up almost all 22 characters of the Chinese sexagenary cycle, commonly used here like the alphabet, as their pseudonyms in the document. In one of the numerous incidents cited by the court, Lee saw a chance to lay his hands on a long-time friend, identified by the character "Wei", during a night out at the Spark disco in the basement of the Taipei 101 skyscraper.

After Wei became drunk and said she was going home, Lee said he would escort her back. Instead, he took her back to his luxury apartment, a five-minute car ride away. He then undressed and had sex with her. He also forced her to perform oral sex on him.

Wei came to the next morning and was shocked to find herself lying undressed beside Lee in bed. She quickly left his apartment on her own. But that afternoon, Lee used the text messaging software WhatsApp to send her two clips of herself, naked, which he had recorded on his iPhone the night before. A distressed and scared Wei went to the Spark nightclub again that night and demanded that Lee give her his phone, from which she then deleted the two clips. "But the defendant had already copied and saved the clips (on) his computer," the court said.

The clips were part of a stash of videos and photographs depicting sex with various women. Lee had named the file "collectionz". In one clip, Lee stuck out his tongue at the camera while having intercourse with an unconscious woman identified as Ding. In another, he yelled the full name of yet another victim. "This showed that he regarded the images as trophies to be collected and savoured," the court said, calling the mentality deplorable.

Lee was born out of wedlock to Madam Shih Chin-hsiu, a nightclub boss, and Mr Lee Yueh-tsang, a businessman who made his billions from investing in the stock market. Mr Lee said in a magazine interview years ago that he has five children by four women despite having married only once in his life.

His son - Justin Lee - studied business administration at the University of Northern Virginia and was reportedly getting NT$600,000 (S$26,000) a month in pocket money from his father. After coming back to Taiwan, he spent much of his time at nightclubs. In 2007, he was sentenced to three months' jail, commutable to a fine, for beating up a man with his gang. But he was also known as a smooth and lavish operator who often paid for a private room for himself and his friends at nightspots.

Many celebrities, including models Patina Lin, Wang Liya and actor Sunny Wang, have admitted to being part of his social circle. Ms Lin said of Lee: "He's very good at socialising. Almost everyone in the circle knows him."

Top model Maggie Wu dated Lee briefly in 2008 and was one of the women he secretly filmed in bed. She has kept a low profile since the scandal broke in August last year, when it emerged that the police had been investigating Lee for a year in a separate probe over complaints by two women that they had been drugged and raped by Lee.

According to the verdict, at least two of the 34 women Lee allegedly raped or filmed surreptitiously decided to stay silent about their ordeals for fear of tarnishing their reputation as they had many mutual friends with Lee.

Fourteen never showed up in court to testify.

Just as well, perhaps, as Lee denied ever having sex with them against their will and called them willing partners. He insists that he has been "wronged" and has indicated he will appeal his sentence.

seokhwai@sph.com.sg

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