Below is a letter from the St. Paul’s School administration to the school community addressing the Owen Labrie verdict:
By now you have likely learned of the verdicts in the trial of Owen Labrie ’14. The trial has been deeply painful for all of us in the St. Paul’s community, but especially for the young woman who has suffered through this nightmare. From the beginning – some 15 months ago – to the conclusion of the trial, she and her family have shown remarkable moral courage and strength. Her resolve and unwavering commitment to the pursuit of the truth have been inspiring to us and to many outside our School community.
In June of 2014, when we first learned about these disturbing events, and informed you of the arrest of Owen Labrie, we pledged that we would use this case and the issues raised by it to learn more about ourselves and to make our School better. We began more than a year ago by conducting a comprehensive review of the safety of our School environment and of our reporting procedures to ensure they continue to meet the highest standards. We also made policy changes and enhanced programming in several key areas to further support our students in making St. Paul’s the healthiest residential learning environment possible. In addition, we invited independent experts and researchers to our campus to advise us on the best ways to strengthen the trust, respect and understanding that is so critical for a tight-knit, fully residential community like ours. More information about the speakers and the topic areas they covered can be accessed on the “From the Rector” page of our website under the “Focus on Healthy Community” section.
With advice and guidance from a team of public health professionals, we developed and began implementing additional programming to strengthen our community through enhanced education and prevention efforts in such areas as harassment, bullying, gender-based violence, and substance abuse. Our work continues as we strive to strengthen our Living in Community curriculum, develop new bystander intervention training for all students and heads of house, and conduct a review of School policies and practices surrounding student conduct and discipline. Our expectation is that these efforts will allow our faculty, staff, administration, and students to continue to be engaged in critical introspection with an eye to improving how we live together.
The topics raised by the trial have been an area of focus for the School for some time, and these same issues have been highlighted for the broader St. Paul’s community through testimony in court and recently in the press. To the frustration of many, the public discussion of the trial over the past two weeks has inaccurately portrayed St. Paul’s School and our culture. The allegations about our culture are not emblematic of our School or our values, our rules, or our student body, alumni, faculty, and staff.
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