The sexual assault victim in the highly-publicized 2015 case involving former prep school student Owen Labrie revealed her identity and spoke out for the first time on the Today show.
Chessy Prout remained anonymous during the headline-making trial that saw Labrie sentenced to a year in county jail for three counts of misdemeanor sexual assault as a result of the 2014 incident. But, now the 17-year-old says she’s done hiding.
“I want everyone to know that I am not afraid or ashamed anymore, and I never should have been,” Prout told Today‘s Savannah Guthrie.
Labrie, 20, was accused of assaulting Prout at St. Paul’s School, a prestigious boarding school in New Hampshire, during a ritual called “Senior Salute” – in which seniors allegedly attempt to have sex with younger students before graduating.
He was acquitted of felony assault last August but was found guilty of the misdemeanors.
“It’s been two years now since the whole ordeal, and I feel ready to stand up and own what happened to me and make sure other people, other girls and boys, don’t need to be ashamed either,” Prout said.
Prout said that she and her family were initially prepared to avoid a criminal trial. But the teen ended up testifying for three days. “In the pursuit of justice, I would’ve done anything,” she told Today.
“It was something that was necessary,” she said. “Although it was scary and although it was pretty difficult … I wouldn’t be where I am today without having been able to speak up for myself during that time.”
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Prout said she was not happy with the split verdict.
“They said that they didn’t believe that he did it knowingly, and that frustrated me a lot because he definitely did do it knowingly,” she said. “And the fact that he was still able to pull the wool over a group of people’s eyes bothered me a lot and just disgusted me in some way.”
Labrie was freed on bail in May and is living at his mother’s New Hampshire home. He is a registered sex offender.
“I hope he learns,” Prout told Guthrie. “I hope he gets help. And that’s all I can ever hope for in any sort of process like this. Because if he doesn’t learn, he will do it to another young woman.”
Now, Prout is using the ordeal to help others, partnering with the non-profit Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment. The organization launched its new initiative, “I Have the Right To,” on Tuesday.
“I want other people to feel empowered and just strong enough to be able to say, ‘I have the right to my body. I have the right to say no,’ ” Prout said.