The jury selection process has begun for the trial of a 19 year old Vermont man who has been accused of raping a 15 year old girl as part of an alleged tradition at the man’s former prep school. Owen Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont is facing several charges in relation to the rape that took place in May of 2014. He has pleaded “not-guilty” to each of these charges.
Labrie’s trial is slated to begin this Monday, with his testimony scheduled to take place on Tuesday at Concord Superior Court. According to news reports being released on this matter, Owen Labrie had been speaking to detectives for quite some time leading up to the start date for his arraignment. In the sworn affidavit produced by detective Julie Curtin, Labrie painted a vivid picture of the disreputable traditions that took place at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire. St. Paul’s is an elite boarding school well known for the alumni it has produced in previous years, such as current Secretary of State John Kerry, and actor Judd Nelson to name a few. The revelations provided by Labrie have been shocking to those on the outside looking in—but statements from those involved in the inner workings of the school detail a private knowledge of what had been taking place behind closed doors.
St. Paul’s School has seemingly had a longstanding tradition in which older boys at the school attempt to take the virginity of younger female classmates prior to their graduation from the academy. The tradition, allegedly referred to as the “Senior Salute” has been taking place for an unknown amount of time. The school had started admitting female students in 1971, but the tradition has only been made apparent in recent years to the administrative officials working within the school. According to statements provided by a school counselor who contacted the police after the female victim came forward with her allegations, the victim’s mother indicated that she had prior knowledge of this “Senior Salute” taking place at her daughter’s school.
Owen Labrie told Detective Curtin that senior boys took “great pride” in their ability to coerce younger girls into sexual activity. He went on to say that in addition to the notorious “Senior Salute”, the boys at St. Paul’s also actively participated in a competition in which they would see who could “score” with the most girls at the school. Apparently they had kept a running tally behind washing machines available to students—a tally that school officials painted over when they became aware of its existence. However, this did not prevent the boys from engaging in the same behavior. They later moved the tally online and Owen Labrie said that he had disturbingly personal aspirations to “try to be number one” on the tally chart.
If you were to ask Owen Labrie about his opinion on what happened that afternoon in May of 2014, just two days prior to his graduation from St. Paul’s, he would tell you that anything that unfolded was consensual and had stopped just shy of sexual intercourse despite the fact that he allegedly put a condom on during the interaction. He said that the 15 year old victim was “eager to have sex” but that a “divine inspiration” took over him and he stopped the encounter from going any further. When questioned by Detective Curtin on why this young girl would tell people they had sex when they had not, Labrie simply responded that it was apparently a “great source of pride” for young girls to have the chance to become intimate with their older counterparts.
The assault itself took place on May 30, 2014. According to reports provided for the case, Labrie had used a computer to invite the young girl to meet him on campus. After they met up, Labrie escorted the young girl to the roof of one of the campus buildings where he allegedly took her by surprise before she was able to safely respond to the situation or flee from the area. Owen Labrie then raped her repeatedly. This overview of the situation has caused Owen to face three counts of aggravated felony sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and luring the girl there via computer. Labrie has held at least three different attorneys in preparation for his trial and the lawyer currently representing him in this case is J.W. Carney Jr.—who has most recently represented Whitey Bulger.
The rector for St. Paul’s School, Michael Hirschfeld, spoke with the Associate Press and indicated that “breaches of school policies or the trust upon which they are founded, are addressed swiftly and judiciously.” However, he declined to comment about the school’s possible knowledge of this “Senior Salute”. He said the school has policies in place to ensure the safety and well-being of all students in attendance at St. Paul’s. During a speech he had given at the school following the sexual assault allegations, he addressed parents and students alike and asked the rhetorical question, “Are we confronting the transmission of unhealthier elements of school culture as effectively as we could?” If these allegations against Owen Labrie and about the underground sexual predatory initiatives taking place at the academy prove to be accurate in their nature, the question will no longer stand to be rhetorical in the minds of the parents whose children could be at the forefront of these deplorable traditions. The Boston criminal lawyer blog will continue to follow this case and will provide periodic updates.
Additional quotes and information may be found at the following links: http://boston.cbslocal.com/2015/08/16/st-paul-school-owen-labrie-rape-case/