Prep School Rape Trial: Defendant Owen Labrie Takes the Stand

26 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Prep school grad accused of rape set to testify at trial.

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The latest on the trial of a former student at an elite prep school accused of raping a freshman as part of a tradition called Senior Salute (all times local): A former student accused of raping a freshman two days before he graduated from an elite New Hampshire prep school says his relationship with his accuser was “flirty.” Prosecutors say the Senior Salute is a school tradition in which graduating seniors seek to romance and have intercourse with younger students before leaving campus. Labrie, who was charged on nine counts, has maintained that a “divine intervention” stopped him from going all the way during his Senior Salute with the accuser. He is expected to take the stand Wednesday to offer his side of the story in a case that has shaken this small community and shone a spotlight on campus culture at one of the country’s most prestigious boarding schools. The state rested its case Tuesday after two forensic investigators testified a sample taken from the girl’s underwear matched Labrie’s DNA profile but they were unable to conclude it was his sperm. But on the fifth day of the high-profile trial, the defense team’s stubborn insistence that Labrie didn’t have sex with the now 16-year-old girl appears to have weakened his case.

During technical testimony Tuesday from a state forensics expert, jurors heard about a DNA test on underwear worn by the accuser on the night of the incident. During almost four hours of interrogation by police, Labrie maintained he never sexually penetrated the 15-year-old girl last May while they were kissing on the fourth floor of the elite prep school’s science center.

Other students testified this week that Labrie was competing with friends to see how many girls they could “score” with before graduation and described a range of sexual encounters from kissing to intercourse that were part of Senior Salute. Paul’s School, which boasts as alumni an international roster of senators, congressmen, ambassadors, Pulitzer Prize winners, Nobel laureates and other notables, including U.S. They said Labrie gave no indication that the sex wasn’t consensual, and all agreed that students frequently exaggerate their sexual escapades when discussing them with peers. Another expert, Kevin McMahon, said that he had earlier discovered a “strong indication” of semen in a panel of the underwear, and sent the evidence off to Swango for the DNA testing.

Curtin said Labrie asked his mother to wait for him in the police department lobby and told detectives he would prefer they did not record the interview. On Tuesday, Concord Police Detective Julie Curtin testified that Labrie told her he had a playful encounter with the girl but stopped short of having sex after a moment of “divine inspiration.” But defense attorney J.W. Carney suggested police had treated his client unfairly, trying to catch him off-guard by driving to Vermont to interview him and speaking to him without his parents present. Investigators first met Labrie and his mother at a coffee shop, but after detectives said it would be better to talk at the police station, he agreed to be interviewed without his mother for nearly four hours. Prosecutors showed Facebook messages in May 2014 between Labrie and another friend, Tucker Marchese, who pressed for details about Labrie’s Senior Salute: “How’d it go from no to bone?” Labrie replied: “Just pulled every trick in the book.” But Solovaara had previously told investigators the opposite, and the judge reportedly told jurors that they could use this evidence to assess his credibility.

The court has so far heard testimony from 16 witnesses, including the accuser, her best friend, her mother, two nurses, a doctor, and the dean of students. Labrie was arrested and charged last summer with several counts of felony sex assault, misdemeanor sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and using a computer to solicit or lure a child under the age of 16. She also said she’d sought the morning after pill from the school nurse, and that when asked if their sex was consensual, she’d answered yes. (The nurse confirmed this in her own testimony.) “It was so much easier,” the accuser told the court, explaining that she was in a rush to save seats for her sister’s graduation when she went to the nurse’s office. A hospital nurse who examined the girl two days after their encounter, administering the rape kit, testified that the girl had redness in her vagina that could be consistent with an assault, but could also be the result of non-sexual irritation. By the end of last week, the court had seen minimal evidence beyond the accuser’s testimony (as well as that of her mother and friend) that her encounter with Labrie was not consensual.

The school rector, Mike Hirschfeld, told students in a letter last summer that participating in games involving sexual solicitation would be grounds for expulsion, and has said in a statement that allegations about the culture at St.

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