CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A jury on Friday began its second day of deliberations in the trial of a former student at an elite prep school charged with raping a freshman last year as part of a tradition of sexual conquest days before he graduated.
Owen Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, faces nine charges, including three felony sex assault charges that carry sentences of 10 to 20 years in prison.
Prosecutors say he raped the 15-year-old 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.
Labrie, now 19, testified the two had consensual sexual contact that stopped short of intercourse.
In their final arguments Thursday, lawyers on both sides criticized the school and offered different interpretations of email and Facebook messages the teens exchanged after the encounter in a campus building’s dark and noisy mechanical room on May 30, 2014 — two days before Labrie graduated.
He was bound for Harvard on a full scholarship and planned to take divinity school classes but testified that his plans are on hold.
His accuser testified she fought to keep Labrie from removing her underwear during the encounter. She said she told Labrie “no no no.”
She testified she was “frozen” and blamed herself for not doing more to try to kick and push him off.
Prosecutor Joseph Cherniske said the girl, now 16, didn’t report the rape for several days because she didn’t want to disrupt her sister’s graduation and because she “thought she could handle it all.”
“She thought she could handle going with an 18-year-old boy for a Senior Salute,” Cherniske said. “She thought she could say no by holding onto her clothing and saying no and make it stop.”
Labrie testified the two never had sex but acknowledged he bragged to friends that they had.
Labrie’s lawyer, J.W. Carney, told the jury the girl testified she had no recollection of telling her best friend earlier what sex acts she was prepared to perform on Labrie because to admit that “would destroy the whole image she’d been trying to create.”
“If you conclude she was not being truthful then I submit it taints her entire testimony,” Carney said. “In order to put forward this story, she was willing to tell a lie about a critical fact right in front of you.”
The jury of nine men and three women deliberated Thursday for more than three hours. They returned to court Friday morning.
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