CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Jurors in the trial of a former student charged with raping a freshman girl days before he graduated from an elite New Hampshire prep school will soon have to weigh whether the defendant is telling the truth when he says no intercourse occurred during their heated encounter.
Owen Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, was an 18-year-old senior at St. Paul’s School when a 15-year-old girl accused him of raping her on campus last year as part of Senior Salute, a school tradition in which seniors try to romance and have intercourse with underclassmen before leaving campus.
Closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday.
Labrie acknowledged that he told multiple close friends within hours of the encounter that he’d had sex with the girl, but told jurors Wednesday he lied to impress them. He also admitted deleting several Facebook exchanges, including one in which he told a friend he had “pulled every trick in the book” to have sex with her.
Labrie was the only defense witness. On cross-examination, he said he never told Concord detectives about ejaculating during the encounter because it was “embarrassing.” He denied it was because he didn’t know at the time that sperm was found on the girl’s underwear.
After court, defense attorney J.W. Carney said he was “very pleased with Owen’s work today as a witness.” He also had sharp words for St. Paul’s School, — one of eight members of a prep school Ivy League of sorts that boasts an international roster of business leaders, senators, congressmen, Pulitzer Prize winners and Nobel laureates as alumni.
“The culture of St. Paul’s should be very troubling, in my opinion, to any parent who sends a child there. To wink at traditions like ‘Senior Salute’ is such an outdated practice that it should be immediately halted because it has all kinds of people who end up being affected negatively by it,” Carney said. “I think this trial reflects that fact.”
If the jury unanimously believes there was no sexual intercourse involving penetration, they would find Labrie not guilty of all six sexual assault charges — three felony and three misdemeanor counts. That would leave misdemeanor charges of simple assault — for allegedly biting the girl’s breast — and endangering the welfare of a child under the age of 18.
Labrie has maintained that the two had consensual sexual contact but not intercourse.
The girl had testified last week that she initially thought Labrie’s intentions were “really wrong,” but she relented when a friend convinced her that Labrie was sincere in trying to pay attention to her. She testified she was prepared for kissing at most, but did not expect Labrie to become aggressive.
A close friend of hers testified the girl told her in explicit terms how far she was prepared to go — saying it was beyond kissing but did not include intercourse.
Labrie denied Wednesday that he had wanted to have sex with the 15-year-old for months, even though hers was the only name he put in capital letters on a list he made in late March 2014 of girls he wanted to “slay” — or hook-up with — before school ended. The list was updated May 8 in an email he sent to a friend containing the phrase “Still at Large.” The girl’s name was still on the list.
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