former st.paul's student gets one year in jail for sexual assault

By Christine Pelisek
Updated October 29, 2015 07:00 PM
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Credit: Geoff Forester/The Concord Monitor/AP

Owen Labrie, the prep school graduate accused of raping a 15-year-old female student last year at New Hampshire’s elite St. Paul’s School, was sentenced to one year in county jail.

Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler also ordered Labrie, 20, to serve five years of probation after he gets out of jail and register as a sex offender, the Associated Press reports.

Labrie, an aspiring divinity student, was acquitted of felony assault in August but was found guilty of three misdemeanors related to penetrative sexual assault, a misdemeanor for endangering the welfare of a child and a felony for using a computer to solicit a child under 16. Labrie, who denied having sex with the freshman, faced up to seven years in prison for the computer enticement felony, and a year on each of the misdemeanors.

Labrie’s case garnered national attention because of the alleged sexual culture at the school called the “Senior Salute“: A game among male students over who could have sex with the most younger students before they graduated. Scores were kept on a wall behind a washing machine until the tally was eventually moved online.

At Labrie’s sentencing hearing, prosecutors, who asked for jail time and for Labrie to complete a sexual offender program, said having sex with the freshman was all part of the former soccer team captain’s game.

“This was a mission for him,” said prosecutor Catherine Ruffle. “This was a sexual conquest. And it was a game. The defendant was a ringleader in this game.”

“There is another side to Owen Labrie and I would assert on this occasion that the victim didn t know about that other side,” she said. “She didn t know she was a target on his list.”

Ruffle said Labrie had plans to seduce and dump the girl’s on his “Senior Salute” list.

Feign intimacy then stab them in the back,” Ruffle said about a Facebook chat Labrie had with a friend before the alleged sexual assault. I lie in bed with them… and pretend like I m in love.

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During the trial, the freshman said she was “a survivor” of sexual assault and didn’t want to “be offensive” to Labrie when he brought her to a secluded spot at the Lindsay Center for Mathematics and Science on campus.

In a video statement played in court Thursday, the freshman, now 17, said she now lives in constant fear of “everything and everyone” and was made to feel “she didn’t deserve to live.”

Since her return to St. Paul’s in the fall, she claimed that she has suffered physical and verbal retaliation from classmates over the incident.

“On one of my first days of school walking to a car and the entire boys varsity hockey team stood up and stared and pointed at me as I was walking alone down the street,” she said.

Labrie’s attorney, J.W. Carney, argued that his client engaged in consensual sex acts with the freshman and should be given probation and community service. Registering as a sex offender was punishment enough, he said, according to WMUR.

In a letter to the judge, Labrie’s mother said her son had become despondent and suicidal after his arrest.

“It is not easy to describe how difficult these eighteen months have been for Owen and our family,” Denise Holland wrote, according to ABC News.

“I am asking you, please, to give him a chance to proceed on with his life and become the productive, spiritual, decent hard-working man of service I know he is destined to be without the stigma of registration or incarceration.”