Saturday, August 29, 2015

Owen Labrie of St. Paul’s School Is Found Not Guilty of Main Rape Charge

NY Times    The prep school graduate accused of raping a younger student at the elite St. Paul’s School dropped his head and sobbed for the first time since the start of his trial: He had been found not guilty on Friday of felony sexual assault charges, but was convicted of having sex with a girl who was below the age of consent. [...]

So ended the trial of Owen Labrie, 19, and with it a rare exploration of the backslapping sexual culture among some students at one of the nation’s most exclusive boarding schools. Over nearly two weeks, jurors listened to prosecutors and defense lawyers ask witnesses about a custom called the “senior salute,” in which older students at St. Paul’s propositioned younger classmates for a last-chance encounter before graduation.

But at its core, the case was about an intimate encounter last year between a 15-year-old girl and an 18-year-old acquaintance, and whether she consented as it escalated.[...]

And after about seven hours of deliberations over two days, the jury appeared to dismiss Mr. Labrie’s insistence that he had not penetrated the girl in any way, but found that the state had not proved that what happened was against the girl’s expressed wishes. [...]

It was a case with conflicting stories and, as is common in such cases, a focus on the credibility of the female accuser.

Mr. Carney made much of the girl’s expectations, recalling that a friend of hers said she had considered the possibility of oral sex with Mr. Labrie.

Mr. Cherniske said that, whatever her expectations, the girl had a right to change her mind.

But the jury ultimately decided either that they did not believe her, or that there was a reasonable doubt about whether she had communicated her denial of consent to Mr. Labrie. [...]

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