Jurors Begin Deliberations in N.H. Prep School Rape Trial | NECN
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Jurors Begin Deliberations in N.H. Prep School Rape Trial

Owen Labrie acknowledged that he told multiple close friends within hours of the encounter that he'd had sex with the girl, but told jurors Wednesday he lied to impress them



    (Published Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015)

    The fate of a New Hampshire prep school graduate is now in the hands of the jury.

    Closing arguments wrapped up Thursday in the case of 19-year-old Owen Labrie who is accused of raping a 15-year-old freshman girls two days before he graduated St. Paul's School in May of 2014.

    The state and defense made their final cases on Thursday and the case went to the jury before lunchtime.

    Defense Attorney J.W. Carney told jurors in closing that his client isn't a "saint" but a teenage boy who was bragging to his friends about something that didn't happen.

    Prosecutor Joseph Cherniske says Labrie targeted the young girl and wouldn't take no for answer. Now the jury will decide who to believe.

    For the 19 year old who claims the rape allegations against him are false, closing arguments appeared to be his breaking point.

    "The entire weight of this event on him is really becoming almost too difficult," Carney said outside Merrimack Superior Court.

    "Difficult" is an understatement - says Cherniske - for the now 16-year-old girl who claims Labrie raped her on St Paul's campus in 2014.

    "She was telling truth with painful honesty," he told the jury.

    Labrie and the alleged victim both testified that they agreed to meet for a tradition called the senior salute, to spend time together and to kiss.

    The young girl says it went too far and they had sex against her will.

    Labrie says they didn't and that through the kissing he never got the sense she was uncomfortable.

    Carney says the girl told a nurse it was consensual, told her friends she didn't know whether to be "happy" or "proud," and that she only changed her story to rape after rumors started swirling and her family found out about her senior salute.

    "She had to make a decision that it would be her reputation into the toilet or it would be Owens and she took the easier route," Carney said.

    The prosecution says just because the girl agreed to kissing, doesn't mean she was a willing participant.

    "So what," Cherniske asked jurors. "Does that mean she can't change her mind?"

    He then attacked Labrie's credibility.

    "He wants you to believe nothing happened in the mechanical room, that it was a joke, yet he deleted 119 message from his Facebook account after talking with police where he confirms he had oral sex with her," Cherniske said.

    Cherniske says the defendant is a predator who targeted a young, vulnerable girl and took her to a place where there'd be no eye witnesses.

    "Where no one would hear a 15 year old girl say, 'no,'" Cherniske said. "And then she froze in fear as he carried out her plan.

    For each of the three most serious charges of rape, Labrie faces up to 20 years.

    Jury will start deliberations again Friday at 9 a.m.

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