N.H. Prep School Grad Sentenced to 1 Year in Jail for Sexual Assault

The graduate of an elite New Hampshire prep school has been sentenced to a year in county jail for sexually assaulting an underage classmate as part of a game of sexual conquest on the campus.

A judge on Thursday also ordered 20-year-old Owen Labrie to serve five years of probation. He will remain free while his lawyers appeal his conviction.

Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, was convicted in August of misdemeanor sexual assault plus a felony count of using a computer to lure the girl to a sexual encounter. His trial exposed a practice of sexual conquest at St. Paul's School known as Senior Salute in which graduating students try to have sex with underclassmen.

Labrie was 18 then. The girl was 15. He maintained the sexual contact was consensual.

Because he was convicted of using a computer to lure the girl to a sexual encounter, he also has to register immediately as a sex offender.

In documents filed Wednesday, defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr. argued that Labrie already has been punished – shunned by his alma mater and losing a full scholarship to Harvard, dashing his dream to attend the college's divinity school.

His mother, Denise Holland, wrote in a letter to Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler that her son "has been punished beyond a degree that anyone else could possibly understand, but I see it in the fear and sadness in once-bright and joyful eyes."

Dr. Edmund Piper, a clinical psychologist who has been treating Labrie for 13 months, called him "remarkable" and "mature beyond his years intellectually and responsibility-wise."

A former female classmate called him "the kindest, most brilliant and most authentic friend I have," adding that his conviction has not changed her opinion.

Besides the felony, Labrie also was convicted in August of three counts of misdemeanor sexual assault and one count of child endangerment. The felony conviction mandates lifetime registration as a sex offender, although he can petition to be removed from the registry 15 years after he finishes his sentence.

Labrie's arrest exposed a seamier side of the elite school – a practice called "Senior Salute" in which graduating seniors attempt to have sex with underclassmen. The school counts among its alumni Secretary of State John Kerry, Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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