Jury Selected in New Hampshire Prep School Rape Trial | NECN
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Jury Selected in New Hampshire Prep School Rape Trial

Owen Labrie, 19, of Tunbridge, Vt., has pleaded not guilty to multiple felony charges

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    NEWSLETTERS

    (Published Monday, Aug. 17, 2015)

    The jury has been seated in the rape trial of a former New Hampshire prep-school student.

    Owen Labrie, 19, is accused of raping a 15-year-old girl two days before he graduated the internationally-renowned St. Paul's School in Concord.

    Monday, 11 men and three women were seated on the jury and in the coming days we are expect to hear from current and former students about these alleged sexual "traditions" at the prestigious prep school.

    "It's traumatic for any citizen to be put on trial for any offense, especially a serious offense and that's the case with Owen," said Labrie's Defense Attorney J.W. Carney.

    The Vermont teen is charged with three counts of aggravated sex assault, accused of repeatedly raping a 15-year-old girl on the roof of a campus building two days before his graduation in May 2014.

    According to court documents, Labrie told Concord police he never had sex with his accuser, but that the allegations come from a tradition at the school called the "Senior Salute." Labrie told police it's become a contest in which graduating boys try to take the virginity of younger girls before getting their diplomas. During pre-trial motions, the prosecution made clear it considers the "Senior Salute" the motivating factor behind the alleged crime.

    "It is the context of this entire event," said Merrimack County Attorney Catherine Ruffle. "It is impossible for the jury to understand the events that occurred without understanding some kind of history of the 'Senior Salute.'"

    This case, now, calling into question the sexual culture at the elite prep-school, where alumni include three Pulitzer Prize winners, 13 US ambassadors, and Secretary of State John Kerry.

    In a Statement Monday, the Rector of St. Paul's School Michael Hirschfeld wrote, "St. Paul's School has policies in place to ensure that our students are safe, secure, and treated equitably. Our faculty and staff do their utmost to enforce these policies and to guide our students concerning challenging topics. At St. Paul's, breaches of School policies or the trust upon which they are founded, are addressed swiftly and judiciously. All School discipline strives to address the failings of the individual and serve as a platform for deeper learning for the community. We do not tolerate conduct that is at odds with our commitment to a safe and welcoming environment for everyone in the St. Paul's School community. Current allegations about our culture are not emblematic of our School or our values, our rules, or the people who represent our student body, alumni, faculty, and staff."

    NECN has learned that the alleged victim is expected to testify. We do not yet know whether Labrie will take the stand.

    Labrie has maintained his innocence and has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

    Opening Statements are expected Tuesday morning.

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