Former Prep School Student Weeps in Court as He is Found Not Guilty of Felony Rape
A former prep school student who was accused of raping a female freshman has been found not guilty of felony sexual assault.
Owen Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, faced nine charges, including three felony sex assault charges that carried sentences of 10 to 20 years in prison.
On Friday, jurors found him not guilty of three felony counts of sexual assault - the most serious charges. They jury also found him not guilty of simple assault, a misdemeanor.
But they found him guilty of four misdemeanors relating to sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child. He was also found guilty of a single felony count of using a computer to seduce a minor under age 16.
Jurors reached the verdict on Friday after eight hours of deliberations. He broke down as they read it.
Using a computer to entice or abuse a minor is punishable by up to seven years in prison. The statutory-rape charges he was convicted of each carry a maximum sentence of one year behind bars.
A sentencing date has not yet been set.
Labrie had been accused of raping a 15-year-old freshman days before he graduated. She testified that she fought to keep him from removing her underwear and that she was "frozen."
Prosecutors said he raped the girl as part of a practice at St. Paul’s School known as "Senior Salute" in which seniors try to romance and have sex with underclassmen.
"He was going to get what he wanted and not take 'no' for an answer," prosecutor Joseph Cherniske told the jury on Thursday.
But Labrie, now 19, testified the two had consensual sexual contact but did not have sex. He acknowledged that he had bragged to his friends that they had.
He was bound for Harvard on a full scholarship, where he planned to take divinity school classes, but said on the stand that his plans are now on hold.
Prosecutors said the girl, who is now 16, didn’t report the rape for several days because she didn’t want to disrupt her sister’s graduation, which was that same weekend.
The girl's family put their arms around her as she cried in court.
They said in a statement: "Today, a measure of justice has been served for victims of sexual violence. While he was not convicted on all charges, Owen Labrie was held accountable in some way by a jury of his peers for crimes he committed against our daughter. This conviction requires him to take ownership for his actions and gives him the opportunity to reflect upon the harm he has caused."
They added, "While we stood together as a family through this process, it was our young daughter who took the stand to speak the truth and request justice.
"We admire her bravery in coming forward and speaking out in the face of great adversity. It is truly her courage that has made this measure of justice possible today."
St. Paul's School said in its own statement: "We must first commend the remarkable moral courage and strength demonstrated by the young woman who has suffered through this nightmare. Her resolve and unwavering commitment to the truth have been inspiring to us and to many outside our School community. We can only hope that time will bring some measure of healing and comfort to both her and her family."
The school added: "The entire St. Paul’s School community has been deeply affected by this incident. It is our responsibility to ensure that our students live and learn together in a community that is built on respect, caring, and support for one another."
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