Monday, August 31, 2015


"Prep school rape trial raises questions about teen consent" PBS NewsHour 8/28/2015


SUMMARY:  Nineteen-year-old Owen Labrie, a former student at a prep school in New Hampshire, was accused of raping a freshman girl in 2014, but a jury cleared him of felony rape, convicting him on other lesser charges.  Jeffrey Brown discusses the case and the idea of sexual consent with Deborah Tuerkheimer of Northwestern University School of Law and Emily Bazelon of The New York Times Magazine.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  ..... we return to questions and concerns being raised about sexual assault among teens at the high school and college level, and what sort of consent can and should be given.

A trial over an alleged case of rape at an elite boarding school in New Hampshire concluded today.  The case has attracted national attention, and it touches on some broader issues.

Jeffrey Brown starts with some background.

WOMAN:  Guilty or not guilty?

WOMAN:  Guilty.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  Owen Labrie wept as the verdict was read aloud in a New Hampshire state courtroom.  The former prep school student had been accused of raping a freshman girl before his graduation in May 2014.

But the jury this afternoon cleared him of felony rape and instead convicted him on three misdemeanor sex charges and one felony count of using a computer to lure a minor for sexual contact.  During the trial, prosecutors argued Labrie forced himself on the alleged victim during a so-called senior salute, a tradition at Saint Paul’s where some older students arrange trysts with younger ones, including for sex.

OWEN LABRIE, Defendant:  I thought she was having a good time.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Labrie said there was consensual sexual contact between the two, but later testified that — quote — “divine inspiration” compelled him to stop short of intercourse.

OWEN LABRIE:  I thought to myself, maybe we shouldn’t do this.  It hadn’t been my intention going into the night to have sex.

JEFFREY BROWN:  The identity of the victim, now 16 years old, has not been released.  She testified that she said no to Labrie three times during the encounter.

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