Lawyers Ask to Set Aside Prep School Grad’s Conviction

The New Hampshire prep school graduate convicted of having sex with an underage student during a tradition called the "Senior Salute," has filed a motion to dismiss the one felony charge against him.

Owen Labrie's defense attorney says he should not have to register as a sex offender for being found guilty of having voluntary sex with a fellow teenager.

In August, a jury acquitted St. Paul's Prep graduate Owen Labrie on three felony rape charges, but found him guilty on three misdemeanors, for having sex with a fellow student who was only 15 years old and younger than the age of consent.

Because he and the girl set up the sexual encounter online, Labrie was also convicted on one felony count of prohibited use of a computer.

It forces Labrie to register as as a lifetime sex offender and face up to seven years behind bars instead of one for the misdemeanors.

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In a motion filed Thursday, Defense attorney J.W. Carney calls the punishment "wildly disproportionate" to the crime, arguing, quote, ""If he had merely called the 15-year-old on the telephone or spoken to her in person, there would be no additional crime."

Carney had no comment Friday, but expressed his discontent with the felony conviction on the day it was read.

"I believe this computer statute was never intended for kids getting together consensually at the high school that they both attend," he told reporters outside the Concord courthouse on August, 28, 2015.

The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence says the law is intended to be harsh to protect young victims just like the one in this case.

"The legislature had no intent to carve out an exception for 18 year olds who groom underage kids for sex through online means, they just didn't," said NHCADSV representative Maureen McDonald.

Carney says the statute targets pedophiles, not teenagers having voluntary sex.

The 14-page motion describes the punishment as cruel and unusual, which Carney notes is unconstitutional.

For that reason, he argues the guilty verdict should be set aside.

Prosecutor Catherine Ruffle also declined an on camera interview Friday.

She says the state will respond to the defense's motion within ten days.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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