Prep school accuser leaves courtroom in tears

By Allison Manning
August 20, 2015

Former St. Paul's student Owen Labrie conferred with his lawyer before the start of the second day of his trial at Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord, N.H.

A prep school girl who accuses a senior of raping her left the courtroom in tears Tuesday after a defense attorney accused her of giving mixed messages: laughter when they were together, and “hahahas” in messages following the encounter.

J.W. Carney spent about 90 minutes questioning the girl, who says she agreed to meet Owen Labrie and went willingly with him to a secluded room in a building on the campus of St. Paul’s School on May 30, 2014. She was 15 years old at the time; Labrie was two days away from graduating.

The rendezvous was part of a longstanding game called Senior Salute, in which graduating seniors tried to hook up with as many people as possible before they left campus. Prosecutors say Labrie and his friends were in a contest to see how many girls they could “slay.”

The girl, who is not naming, told Labrie he could “count” their encounter toward his numbers.

Labrie maintains the hookup was consensual, and that they never had penetrative sex. The girl says it was rape, even if she didn’t kick or scream or otherwise make it clear that she wasn’t okay with it.

But, Carney said in his questioning today, how was Labrie supposed to know that? During the encounter, the girl laughed and lifted her hips up to help get her shorts off, she told detectives and the court. She now says she was laughing nervously, not happily, and was just trying to be polite.

Carney pointed to the transcript of her interview with Concord police, where she said: “Owen couldn’t know that I was uncomfortable because I was laughing…I was trying to be cool.”

The messages after the encounter were similarly shielded, Carney said, with the girl calling Labrie an angel and writing “hahaha” in messages. How could Labrie know what she really meant, Carney asked.

“Given the fact that he didn’t understand me saying, ‘no,’ maybe he couldn’t understand that, if he’s just thick,” she said. She then apologized for “letting [her] anger come through.”

The back-and-forth got contentious, with Carney at one point asking for the judge to instruct the girl to answer yes or no to his questions. The judge said the girl could explain herself.

She broke down once, when Carney asked why she was saying she was “cloudy” the day before she met up with Labrie.

“I was raped and violated,” she said. “Of course. I was traumatized.”

Labrie couldn’t have known what the girl really meant in her messages, Carney said, because she wasn’t telling him. She agreed, saying she was hiding behind a computer screen.

So in those messages to Labrie, Carney asked, she wasn’t telling the truth. Was she lying? he asked.

“That’s not lying,” she said. “That’s called protecting or covering or being defensive.”

“If it’s necessary to protect yourself by telling a lie, that justifies it?” Carney asked.

“No, it does not,” she said.

Carney said he was done, and the girl left the courtroom in tears.

She eventually came back in to watch some of the prosecution’s other witnesses: her mother, her best friend at school, the school nurse, a sexual assault nurse, and an emergency room doctor, all who came into contact with her after the encounter with Labrie.

Her mom described rushing up from Connecticut early Tuesday morning following graduation, after getting a midnight phone call from her hysterical daughter. She took her daughter to Concord hospital, where a rape kit was done.

Later, with police, she and her daughter went back to the building where Labrie had taken her. The girl couldn’t make it past the top step to the room.

“She had a physical, visceral collapse,” the mother said. “She just sobbed hysterically, shaking uncontrollably. She couldn’t move anywhere.”

The mother took a seat in the front row after her testimony, her daughter tucked under her arm. Prosecutors will continue presenting their case on Monday, and Labrie himself will take the stand next week.



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