In a case that has captured the attention of America by reigniting conversations about sex and consent, a high school student named Owen Labrie was recently convicted of five criminal charges -including one felony- in connection with the sexual assault of another student at a prestigious New Hampshire boarding school.
The case centered around allegations that Labrie, a former student at the elite boarding school of St. Paul's in New Hampshire, had sexually assaulted a 15 year old fellow student as part of a senior tradition. In what was termed the "Senior Salute", this St. Paul's tradition encouraged senior students to have sexual encounters with younger classmates.
At the time of conviction, Labrie was said to appear very shaken, at one point reaching for a tissue to wipe his tears. Now 19, Labrie had planned to attend Harvard University before his acceptance was revoked because of the criminal charges filed against him. The trial consisted of conflicting testimony regarding whether or not consent was given for the sexual encounter, and much of the testimony focused on the culture of St. Paul's boarding school. It was additionally complicated by statements made by Mr. Labrie to his friends after the incident in which he bragged about the sexual encounter.
Labrie was convicted of one felony charge and four misdemeanors. His most serious charge is that of using an online service or internet to seduce, solicit or entice a child under the age of 16 to commit a sexual assault. Additionally, Labrie has been convicted of three counts of misdemeanor sexual assault and one count of child endangerment. Labrie's criminal defense lawyer Mr. Carney accused St. Paul's of allowing the culture of the "Senior Salute" to flourish.
Although Labrie's convictions means he will have to register as a sex offender a jury did acquit him of the more serious charges of aggravated felonious sexual assault for which Labrie could have faced 10 to 20 years in prison. He was also acquitted of the charge of simple assault, a misdemeanor. His sentencing is scheduled for October 29th, and Labrie faces a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison.
National Attention has been focused on this case and the culture surrounding the "Senior Salute" at this elite prep school, which has alumni including John Kerry and other prominent figures. With a reputation as one of the top prep schools in the country, St. Paul's now faces an identity crisis: Is it a prestigious, upstanding educational institution or a hotbed of sexual depravity? As with all things in the criminal law, the answer is rarely clear or well defined.
Sexual Assault cases are never easy, and if you or a friend is in need of representation, please contact the law office of Rehmeyer & Allatt. For more information on sexual assault, aggravated assault, and sexual misconduct charges contact a State College criminal defense attorney at the offices of Rehmeyer & Allatt.