Owen Labrie Gets Year in Jail for St. Paul’s School Assault

30 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

N.H. prep school graduate gets a year in jail for sexual assault.

CONCORD, N.H. A former student at an elite New Hampshire prep school who was convicted of sexually assaulting an underage classmate was sentenced to one year in jail and probation this afternoon. Owen Labrie, 20, of Tunbridge, Vermont, was also ordered to register as a sex offender, perhaps for the rest of his life, and serve five years of probation after he gets out of jail.

Labrie, an aspiring divinity student, could be seen crossing himself in a gesture of prayer as he waited for Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler to issue his sentence, which he did nearly three hours into the hearing. ‘I believe that you are not the angel as portrayed by your counsel.’ Smukler told Labrie. ‘But neither are you the devil as portrayed by the prosecution.’ Labrie had been facing a sentence of up to 11 years in prison after a jury in August found him guilty of three misdemeanor counts of sexual assault for having sex with a 15-year-old girl and one felony count, using a computer to lure a minor for sexual activity. Carney Jr asked the court to show his client leniency, saying in part: ‘his life has been one of trauma trying to deal with these allegations and the emotion of this trial.’ In arguing for probation instead of a prison sentence, Carney insisted that the contact between the then-18-year-old Labrie and the 15-year-old girl was a ‘consensual encounter between two teenagers.’ The victim of the assault chose not to attend Labrie’s sentencing but had her videotaped impact statement played in court, saying that she has spent the past year and a half living in fear ‘of everything and everyone’. ‘What he did to me made me feel like I didn’t belong on this planet…like I would be better off dead,’ the victim said in her prepared statement. ‘Taking a shower, or getting dressed, I feel like no amount of cleaning or showering will make me feel clean again,’ she said, adding that she now has to live with the stigma of being a sex assault victim.

The court also heard from the victim’s mother, who decried the bullying she said their entire family have been subjected to at the hands of her daughter’s detractors, including having the girl’s photo and home address shared on social media. He argued that the felony computer crime of which Labrie was convicted is designed for sexual predators, not high school relationships, and that if Labrie had used a cellphone, he would not be facing lifetime registration. ‘His crucible over the past 18 months has provided powerful deterrence to Owen’s ever treating a woman with selfishness or disrespect, and it has given a clarion warning to other young men who have witnessed his fall from grace,’ Carney wrote. Labrie’s arrest exposed a competition at the $55,290-a-year boarding school called Senior Salute, in which upperclassmen kept score of how many younger students they had sex with.

Edmund Piper, a clinical psychologist who has been treating Labrie for 13 months, called him ‘remarkable’ and ‘mature beyond his years intellectually and responsibility-wise.’ A former female classmate called him ‘the kindest, most brilliant and most authentic friend I have,’ adding that his conviction has not changed her opinion. Labrie’s invitation to join him for a “senior salute,” a practice at the school in which younger students met with seniors for a romantic encounter just before graduation. Labrie testified the two did not have intercourse and said he regretted telling others that he ‘used every trick in the book’ to have sex with the girl. As the sentencing approached, Carney also accused prosecutors of overreaching in bringing the luring-by-computer count, saying the charge was intended to protect young people from adult predators who use bogus identities to snare their victims. Labrie, who was the only defense witness, testified that the encounter amounted to kissing and embracing in their underwear, and that it stopped well short of sex.

In their statements on Thursday, both the accuser and her mother emphasized the pain that the trial itself caused. “To this day, I still feel numb,” the girl said. “It’s terrible to say, but I know why people don’t come forward — and it kills me to say that,” she said. Labrie’s lawyer, she said, left her “physically and verbally violated.” The trial drew national attention and illuminated the clubby sexual culture among some students at one of New England’s most exclusive boarding schools, a place previously better known for educating the likes of Secretary of State John Kerry, J.P.

Labrie’s lawyer, said that his client had “enormous remorse for ever having” taken part in the “senior salute,” and urged the judge to remember that he had been acquitted on the most serious charges. But the Judge Smukler denied the motion. “The harsh truth is that Owen will be penalized every single day hereafter for what he did one night as a high school student,” Mr. Labrie building a chapel in his father’s backyard and letters requesting leniency, including one from an Episcopal priest and another from the mother of a student he dated. Labrie’s online messages with his friends to their sentencing memorandum, including an exchange in which he described how he pursued women on campus, which a friend referred to as “The Labreazy sleazy method.” In the messages, Mr.

Labrie’s insistence that he and his accuser never had sex, although a jury found they had. “He has maintained the mantra ‘deny till you die,’ ” Ms. Ruffle wrote. “The defendant,” she said, “has demonstrated it is necessary for him to be evaluated by the Sex Offender Program at the New Hampshire State Prison.”

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