Defense lawyers for the 19 year old Tunbridge, Vermont teen accused of raping a fellow classmate in 2014 have asked for a judge to dismiss the felony charge against the teen that would force him onto the sex offender registry for the rest of his life. Owen Labrie was acquitted of felony rape charges, but he still faces a felony charge for using a computer to orchestrate the encounter with the unnamed girl last May. If convicted of the felony computer charge, Labrie could face up to 11 years in prison and a lifetime on the sex offender registry.
Owen Labrie’s lawyers requested on Friday that a judge either dismiss the felony charge or prevent Labrie from having to be listed on the sex offender registry for the rest of his life. The request comes after months of back and forth between the two parties involved in the alleged rape that resulted with Labrie being convicted of sexual assault charges a few weeks ago. During the trial, Labrie stated that he had a sexual encounter with the underage victim two days prior to his graduation from the elite St. John’s Prep School in Concord, New Hampshire, but that the two did not engage in sexual intercourse. The alleged victim claimed that she consented to meet Labrie at a private location on the school’s campus, but that she had told Labrie “no” on three different occasions after their meet-up had turned sexual. She has stated that she was under the impression that the two would kiss and nothing further, even though a friend of the victim stated to authorities that the young girl had said in a private conversation that she would agree to oral sex with Labrie if the two were to meet up. The entire ordeal unraveled as a sort of he-said she-said debate. The trial ended with Labrie being acquitted of felony rape charges but still being convicted of lesser sexual assault charges since he was 18 at the time of the encounter.
In the request filed by Owen Labrie’s attorneys, they have said that the teen should be acquitted of the computer charge because he had not been convicted of any of the other felony charges that had been placed against him. The attorneys went on to say that that particular law had been constructed to prevent adults from luring children into terrible situations—it had not been intended to prevent two teenagers from arranging a time to hang out. “If he had merely called the 15-year-old on the telephone or spoken to her in person, there would be no additional crime, yet because he prearranged the encounter through email and Facebook, he will be subjected to the scrutiny and humiliation of sex offender registration for the rest of his life.” The lawyers went on to say that if Labrie were convicted of the computer charge that it could be considered cruel and unusual punishment and a violation of the constitutional probation.
Owen Labrie’s defense attorney J. W. Carney has said that Labrie had no prior criminal record, and that the convictions that he faced just a few short weeks ago “forever changed” the young man and his life. Labrie had plans of attended Harvard for divinity classes—he had a bright future ahead of him. That light has now been diminished by this trial; a trial that will follow him like a dark cloud regardless of whether or not the judge grants the attorney’s request.
What started off as an invitation to participate in a “Senior Salute”, a longstanding tradition at the prestigious school in which older male students attempt to have sexual relations with younger female students, has ended in a rape trial that has destroyed the lives of two young individuals. Owen Labrie’s attorneys have maintained his innocence, and they have said that the young man has suffered enough and that being placed on the sex offender registry for any period of time would further add to the issue. Those on the outside of this situation feel as though the school is partly to blame for allowing this type of behavior to fester over the years. Either way, a young man’s life hangs in the balance and a young girl’s life has been forever altered.
A prosecutor for the case, Catherine Ruffle, said that her office would file a response to the request with the court and would not issue further comment at this time. Owen Labrie faces an additional sentencing in October to determine what prison time, if any, he will face following his conviction of the sexual assault charges.
Additional information may be found at the following link: http://www.wcvb.com/news/lawyers-ask-judge-to-set-aside-prep-school-grads-conviction/35353458