St Paul's prep school trial: accused rapist admitted to sex, say former students

The Guardian (UK)
August 24, 2015

Prosecutor Catherine Ruffle, left, questions former St Paul’s School student Malcom Salovaara on Monday.
Photo by Jim Cole

Three friends of Owen Labrie say he engaged in sexual activities with the alleged rape victim during ‘Senior Salute’, a game of sexual conquest

Boys at an elite New Hampshire prep school crowded into a senior’s room asking if rumors were true Owen Labrie had sex with a freshman girl during an unofficial school tradition known as “Senior Salute”, his friend testified in court Monday.

Labrie, 19, who is accused of raping the underage girl, told the students “No” while nodding yes and smirking, one of his friends at the St Paul’s School testified.

Now in its second week, the trial held in a packed, small courtroom has put a spotlight on St Paul’s, where annual tuition exceeds $50,000 and alumni include Secretary of State John Kerry.

The witness, a stocky hockey player who wore a suit coat and tie and will be a junior this year, told jurors Labrie later told him he had sex with the girl.

“I asked him in a pretty serious manner if he had sex with her, and he told me he did,” said the boy, who also testified he coaxed the girl to meet Labrie after she initially declined.

The boy and two other friends of Labrie all testified on Monday that he admitted to engaging in sexual activities with the girl.

The alleged victim, whose father is a corporate executive at a major global investment firm, sat in the front row and appeared tearful as Labrie’s friends told jurors about having sexually charged conversations with him.

The girl, now 16, spent more than seven hours on the witness stand over three days last week, giving graphic descriptions of a painful assault. She said she allowed Labrie to take off her shorts but not her underwear and froze as he went around her underwear to perform oral sex and penetrate her.

She testified she was a virgin who was caught by surprise and did not scream or try to escape. She claimed Labrie bit her breasts.

Labrie’s roommate Andrew Thomson, who is now student at Brown University, said before Labrie went to meet the girl, he warned him that she was too young. “I told him it probably was not a good idea,” Thomson told the jury.

Later Labrie told his roommate he had “boned her”.

Thomson assumed Labrie meant they had sex, “but in that context it can mean other things,” he said. Thomson denied claims he and Labrie were having a contest on who could accumulate the most “Senior Salutes”.

Malcolm Salovaara, who graduated from St Paul’s and was attending alumni events when the girl says she was assaulted, testified Labrie told him he had “slayed” her.

“It could have meant anything from they kissed to they had sex,” said Salovaara, who now attends Dartmouth University.

Labrie, Thomson and Salovaara, had a Facebook group they called “Slayers Anonymous”, which they used to keep in touch.

Salovaara testified he once asked Labrie whom he most wanted “to pork” on campus. When Labrie named the alleged victim, Salovaara says he expressed surprise and noted her young age. “Does she even have nips yet?” Salovaara said in a message shown to the jury.

He said the “Senior Salute” tradition involved an upperclassman asking a younger student to meet. The invitation could “involved kissing or more than that sexually but not necessarily,” he said.

Labrie’s defense has said he never sexually penetrated the girl. His attorney, JW Carney, told the jury Labrie will testify in his own defense.


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