In a trial that featured lurid and clinical details of a rape at the Plaza Hotel, a different sort of story line emerged: the tremendous wealth and opulent lifestyle of an unnamed Saudi prince.
A member of the prince's entourage was accused of raping one of two women who fell asleep in his hotel bed after a night of bar hopping in January 2010. After two weeks of testimony, the defendant, Mustapha Ouanes, was found guilty on Wednesday of raping the woman, a 26-year-old bartender. The prosecution and the defense gave different accounts of what had happened at the Plaza, but each used the prince's wealth as a central aspect of its case.
Yet the prince's name was uttered during the trial only once, and only in part, by his butler. His full name is Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd. He is the youngest and assumed favorite son of King Fahd, who died in 2005 after 23 years leading Saudi Arabia. The prince's wealth is thought to be in the billions. He has few, if any, official responsibilities and appears to focus mostly on bouncing around the globe with his large entourage, said Simon Henderson, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who has written about the royal family.
Samuel David, a prosecutor, told the jury that the prince's group moved "through a world of wealth and privilege," which led Mr Ouanes to believe "everyone was going to be on his side."
Mr Ouanes's lawyers argued that the prince's wealth created an incentive for the two women, who the defense said went to Mr Ouanes's hotel room to get him to pay for sex, and when he declined their advances, concocted a rape story in hopes of cashing in through a lawsuit.
"We're not talking about the top 1 percent," Aaron Mysliwiec, a defense lawyer, said. "We're talking about Michael Bloomberg kind of wealth."
One of the Plaza's owners is Prince Walid bin Talal, Prince Abdul Aziz's more famous cousin, who is among the largest single shareholders in Citigroup and in News Corporation, the media company controlled by Rupert Murdoch.
For more than four months before Mr Ouanes's encounter with the women, Prince Abdul Aziz had stayed in the 4,000-square-foot fourth-floor suite, one floor below where the rape occurred, according to court testimony. His large entourage occupied more than 50 rooms at the Plaza, and still more in other nearby hotels.
Testimony revealed that some part of that entourage was supplied by the "V.I.P." unit of Saudi Oger, a large construction and telecommunications company. The unit exists to travel with the prince and cater to his desires, the head of the unit testified.
Mr Ouanes, a mechanical engineer employed by the construction company, was in charge of modifying the climate-control system in the prince's suite to match his tastes, according to court testimony. He faces sentencing on March 16. The women have not sued Mr Ouanes or the prince.
The ties between Saudi Oger and Prince Abdul Aziz are well known in Saudi Arabia. The company was founded by Rafiq Hariri, who built Saudi Oger into a large company by winning the trust and business of King Fahd. "Hariri used to say, 'The meat on my shoulder is from King Fahd,' " said As'ad AbuKhalil, a professor of political science at California State University Stanislaus, who has written several books and runs the blog The Angry Arab News Service. Mr Hariri, a former prime minister of Lebanon, was assassinated in 2005. His son, Saad Hariri, took over Saudi Oger and was Lebanon's prime minister for 14 months before he was ousted last year. The two younger men are known to be close, said Mr AbuKhalil and Mr Henderson.
The morning of the rape, Mr Ouanes briefly brought friends from the entourage to the room to meet the two women. One of those men, Ziad El Ghoche, the prince's butler, recounted listening as Mr Ouanes told the women, "We have a yacht, we have planes, and we work with the son of a king."
"I did stop him from talking at that point, in Arabic," Mr El Ghoche testified. "I told him, Don't speak foolishly because of the nature of our work. People might take advantage of us."
Before the police arrived at Mr Ouanes's room the morning of the rape, Nizar Adeeb, an employee of the Plaza who was assigned to focus on the needs of the entourage, was already there. Mr Adeeb testified that when he entered Mr Ouanes's room, one of the women, by then very upset, shouted at him: "Do you work for the prince, too?"
He answered no and stood quietly until the police were about to take Mr Ouanes away. Mr Adeeb then reached into his own pocket and gave Mr Ouanes a $100 bill to take with him and placed a coat over Mr Ouanes's shoulders to hide the handcuffs.
"The concern was the Plaza's reputation, more than the client," he testified.