Alleged Victim in N.H. Prep School Rape Case Breaks Down on Stand

Opening statements were Tuesday morning in the trial of 19-year-old Owen Labrie of Tunbridge, Vermont

Asked to identify the man she says raped her, a student from a prestigious New England prep school broke down on the stand Tuesday, when she faced her alleged attacker for the first time in a trial.

Her allegations have drawn international attention to St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. A graduate is accused of raping a 15-year-old freshman two days before getting his diploma last year as part of a senior sex competition.

The alleged victim talked about how much she loved going to school at St. Paul's and how she's excited to go back in the fall, but her tone changed as soon as she was asked if she saw the man who allegedly raped her.

"Yes I do, I'm sorry," she said through tears, "He's wearing a blue tie and glasses."

The young woman identified 19-year-old Owen Labrie as the man who she says raped her on graduation weekend in May 2014.

In opening statements, Prosecutor Catherine Ruffle told the jury that Labrie's motivation was a sexual tradition at the school called the "Senior Salute," that became a contest among Labrie and his friends, to see who could take the virginity of the most girls before graduation.

The alleged victim told the court the tradition involves upperclassmen sending invitations to younger students. She says almost everyone at school knows about it, but she didn't think it was an invitation just for sex.

"Sometimes I thought it could go from showing them cool places on campus, to taking them someplace, to trying to have sex with them," the alleged victim said.

She admitted to receiving a senior salute from Labrie, declining it, and then later changing her mind.

"Here's a person who has paid special attention to me, how nice, he seems genuine, so I will rethink," she explained.

Earlier in the day, the jury was bused to the Lindsay Building on the St Paul's School campus where the alleged rape happened in a rooftop mechanical room. In that room, Ruffle says Labrie dismissed the teenager's requests for him to stop his sexual advances.

"She's only 15 years old with no sexual experience, she tried to say no," Ruffle told the jury.

But Labrie's defense attorney J.W. Carney paints a different picture, saying the alleged victim isn't a victim at all, instead a willing participant. To this point, he read love-letter like text messages between Labrie and his accuser just a short time after the alleged crime.

"'Have happy dreams my sweet,' says Owen," Carney read out loud.

Then he read his accuser's reply.

"'And you, Owen,'" Carney said. "Does this sound like texting where she was unwilling that night?"

In those messages, the two also discussed an earring that the girl had lost in the mechanical room, and that Labrie would help her find it, Carney said.

The alleged victim will take the stand again Tuesday morning.

It is not yet clear when Labrie will testify.

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