Owen Labrie, a popular senior at world renown St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH, used his Facebook account to contact a female freshman for a “Senior Salute,” a tradition in which upper class-men score sexual favors from younger students.
A 15 year old young lady he invited thought the practice entailed kissing, not sexual penetration. She was happy that Labrie had selected her for this ritual. There seems to have been no discussion of what Mr. Labrie had in mind, and, although the girl willingly went along with sexually stimulating behavior, she is adamant that she said “no,” and did not consent to the penetration of her body.
Labrie claims he stopped before inserting himself. She argues he did not and that his hands were on her upper body as she felt his insertion into her female organs.
Some things are perfectly clear…
- St. Paul’s, who enjoys an outstanding reputation as a college preparatory institution and a long-term affiliation with the Episcopal church, enables a misogynistic ritual that dehumanizes women and applauds sexual entitlement.
- Young ladies need to be made aware that they should never engage in any activity in which they’re perceived as an object by the other party. Labrie was very transparent that he was after a “Senior Salute.”
- Young men should never assume that one type of sexual behavior provides consent for another. The time to discuss the boundaries is BEFORE you engage in activity that is sexually stimulating. And at any time, you must respect the other person’s wishes if they change their mind.
This case rests on consent
In New Hampshire, sexual assault by virtue of agreed upon sexual contact with a minor (13-16 years old,) is a Class A misdemeanor but only if the span between the ages of the parties is 5 or more years. Felonious sexual assault against a minor, sexual assault which includes agreed upon penetration, requires a span of 4 or more years. But the span of ages between Labrie and the young lady is only 3 years.
While the jury found that the girl had not adequately conveyed her lack of consent, the judge found that she had not conveyed consent either. Labrie was found guilty of 4 misdemeanors, one was suspended, and a felony charge.
Convicted of use of a computer to lure a minor
A felony offense seems a stretch based on the jury’s blurred image of the girl’s consent. Finding him guilty of 649-B, would require him to register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life which will dramatically alter the course of his development. Labrie intended to become a Divinity Student and had been granted a full scholarship to Harvard. His scholarship was withdrawn due to this case.
Because of their age difference, and the lack of clear determination on the issue of consent, if he cannot be found guilty on RSA 632-A, he cannot be found guilty of 649-B:4.
COMPUTER PORNOGRAPHY AND CHILD EXPLOITATION PREVENTION
649-B:4 Certain Uses of Computer Services Prohibited. –
I. No person shall knowingly utilize a computer on-line service, internet service, or local bulletin board service to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child or another person believed by the person to be a child, to commit any of the following:
(a) Any offense under RSA 632-A, relative to sexual assault and related offenses.
My prediction of the appeal
Ultimately, I believe that on appeal, the conviction of computer luring will be set aside, and the guilty verdicts which are misdemeanors will stand. The end result is that Labrie will spend a year in jail, which could be shortened to 8 months for good behavior, but will be able to recoup enough of his life to be able to attend college and benefit from the lesson he learned. Doing so is nearly impossible when one is a registered sex offender which prohibits use of the internet and sets limits on types of employment.
How does this happen in today’s society?
If we can’t expect a top ranked college preparatory school, with a long tradition of excellence, to impart morality to their student body…. who can we trust to do so? This circumstance speaks volumes about the failure of moral reasoning imparted at St. Paul’s and the general rape culture of our young people.