Teen breaks down in tears on the stand as she accuses elite prep school student of raping her in 'virginity taking' game

By Kelly Mclaughlin
Daily Mail (UK)
August 18, 2015

Owen Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, is accused of raping a freshman girl as part of a campus practice of sexual conquest during the school's Senior Salute at the prestigious St Paul's School in Concord

Recent St Paul's School graduate Labrie, second from left, stands between his lawyers J.W. Carney, left, and Sam Zaganjori, as prosecutor Catherine Ruffle walks by as the jury visits the school

St Paul's is known as one of the few select prep schools that almost guarantees graduates' entry into an Ivy League college

Secretary of State John Kerry (above) is just one of the many luminaries who graduated from the prep school, where Labrie says a 'tradition' of senior boys taking the virginity of younger girls runs rampant

Former FBI director Robert Mueller (above) is one of the many accomplished alums of St Paul's prep school

St Paul's elite prep school has graduated some of the most accomplished people in the world but it has been accused of not doing enough to stem an 'unhealthy' sexual culture

[with video]

A teenage girl accusing an elite prep school graduate of raping her as part of a campus practice of sexual conquest broke down in tears as she took the stand on Tuesday in court.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers in the trial of Owen Labrie allegedly raping a freshman girl told jurors that the case hinges on the credibility of the accuser.

Prosecutor Catherine Ruffle said in her opening statement that Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, raped the 15-year-old girl on the roof of a campus building in May 2014 as part of the Senior Salute at the prestigious St Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire.

She referred to the practice, in which graduating boys try to take the virginity of younger girls before getting their diplomas, as 'the context for this entire event'.

Labrie, now 19, has pleaded not guilty to several felonies.

On the witness stand on Tuesday, the accuser broke down crying and pointed at Labrie when asked if he was in the courtroom.

The petite student, her ash blonde hair pulled back from her forehead, told jurors the two were not friends, but he was a classmate of her sister.

She said during her testimony that she thought Labrie’s invitation to a Senior Salute was ‘disgusting’ because he had written it so sappily, according to WMUR.

‘I thought his intentions were really wrong,’ she said, but claimed to reconsider after being persuaded by a male friend.

The alleged victim said that the Senior Salute was well known on campus, but she didn’t think there were any expectations involved. She is due to resume testimony on Wednesday.

‘This is the face of Owen Labrie,’ Ruffle told jurors in court. ‘It's probably not the face you think of when you think of sexual assault, but when you see and hear the evidence, we believe you will see a different side of the defendant.’

She said that the victim had agreed to meet with Labrie, but had not expected to have intercourse.

Defense lawyer JW Carney said Labrie will testify that he had consensual sexual contact with the girl two days before he graduated last year but they did not have intercourse.

Carney told jurors that email and Facebook exchanges between the two will show the girl met Labrie, who was 18 at the time, willingly and bantered with him after their encounter.

He said the messages were mutually romantic and flirtatious, and occasionally written in French.

Carney, who minimized the Senior Salute element, read to jurors from a string of emails between the two before and immediately after the encounter.

In them, the girl agreed to meet Labrie 'only if it's our little secret'.

In an email exchange after the encounter, Carney told jurors, she wrote: 'You're not so bad yourself. I also lost my earring up there'.

'Does this sound like texting where she is unwilling that night?' Carney asked.

'When you've seen all the evidence, had a chance to study these emails and text messages and you've had a chance to hear from Owen himself, you will have reasonable doubt about what happened,' Carney said.

Ruffle said the girl would testify that the two had removed some clothing and were kissing when Labrie became more assertive.

The girl said no and held on to her underwear with both hands to try to stop Labrie, but he forced himself on her, Ruffle said.

'She's going to testify the defendant became very aggressive, very fast,' Ruffle told jurors.

'He pulled her bra down, he bit her breast and it was painful.'

'She's a 15 year-old girl without sexual experience,' Ruffle said.

'She tried to say no, tried to use her physical conduct to let him know this was not OK.'

Prior to the start of the trial, Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, talked openly about the tradition when he was interviewed by Concord Police.

On a campus where upperclassmen studiously avoid their younger peers in most settings, Labrie told a detective some students 'take great pride' in having sex with younger students before they leave school.

Labrie also told the detective of a contest where boys compete to 'score' with the most girls, keeping a running tally written in indelible marker on a wall behind washing machines.

The school kept painting over the scoreboard so it eventually was moved online.

A counselor who contacted police after hearing from the alleged victim's mother also told an investigator about the tradition, the Concord Monitor reported last year, citing a police affidavit.

The same affidavit said the school had been trying to educate students against 'sexual scoring'.

Prosecutors have not indicated how far back they believe the 'Senior Salute' goes.

Labrie, however, acknowledged to the detective he was 'trying to be number one', the detective wrote.

A set of keys have been selected as a piece of evidence for the case, according to WMUR.

Prosecutors claim that the keys gave access to the roof of the campus building where hook-ups allegedly occurred.

‘It was also a tradition to pass the set of keys from one class to the next, so these activities would continue for years to come,’ Ruffle said.

After opening statements, jurors visited the campus at St Paul's, whose alumni include Secretary of State John Kerry.

Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau is also an alum, as are 13 US ambassadors, three Pulitzer Prize winners and sons of the Astor and Kennedy families.

The school belongs to the Eight Schools Association, which is seen as an Ivy League for prep schools that includes Choate Rosemary Hall and Hotchkiss in Connecticut, Phillips Academy Andover, Deerfield Academy and Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey and Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.

It enrolls about 530 students and admitted girls for the first time in 1971. Tuition, room and board costs $53,810 a year.

According to police affidavits, Labrie spoke freely about the Senior Salute and about a contest in which seniors tried to have sex with the most underclassmen.

He said that as a student leader, he tried to educate others against the practice.

He was given the Rector's Award at graduation for 'selfless devotion to school activities'.

Labrie was accepted to Harvard but the school said in September that he is no longer enrolled.

He told the detective that he tried to educate other students not to engage in 'Senior Salute' and that the school wasn't doing enough to curtail the tradition.

'The school has to put its foot down on this culture,' Labrie is quoted in a police affidavit. 'It's not healthy.'

Ruffle also told jurors that Labrie on March 31, 2014, made a list of girls he considered for 'possible Senior Salutes' and the only name in all capital letters was that of the accuser.

She told jurors on Tuesday that this case ‘is about Owen Labrie sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl’, and not about the school they attended.

‘It’s about how he thought about this for months, how he made a plan, and he executed the plan in an isolated, secluded, mechanical room in the Lindsay building, on campus,' Ruffle told jurors.

The trial is expected to last two weeks. Prosecutors are expected to call current and former students to testify about the sexual culture at one of the country's most selective boarding schools.

The school's rector, Michael Hirschfeld, said in an emailed statement that 'breaches of school policies or the trust upon which they are founded, are addressed swiftly and judiciously’.

Hirschfeld declined to address questions about 'Senior Salute’.

'St. Paul's School has policies in place to ensure that our students are safe, secure, and treated equitably,' Hirschfeld's statement said.

During a speech at family weekend at St Paul's in October 2014, Hirschfeld said the sexual assault allegation 'has provided us with an important opportunity to reconsider elements of our shared life that do not appear in our strategic plan.'

'Are we confronting the transmission of unhealthier elements of school culture as effectively as we could?' he asked rhetorically.

Labrie is charged with three counts of aggravated felony sex assault, endangering the welfare of a child and using a computer to lure the girl to the on-campus meeting.

Labrie denied having intercourse with the girl, telling police that they partially disrobed, kissed and touched.

He also acknowledged putting on a condom.

Labrie said the freshman girl was eager to have sex, but the aspiring divinity student said he had a 'moment of self-restraint' and stopped.

'He stated it was a moment of “divine inspiration”,' Det Julie Curtin wrote in her affidavit.

Asked why the girl would lie about having sex with him, Labrie said it's a 'great source of pride for younger students' to have sex with seniors.



Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.