This past week, St. Paul’s School former student Owen Labrie was convicted of seducing and having sex with a 15-year-old student, but was acquitted of felony rape charges because the sex was determined to be consensual.
The jury’s decisions sparked debate among legal experts and news anchors who covered the high-profile case. St. John’s, located in New Hampshire, is one of the premier prep schools in the nation.
Labrie was found guilty on five of nine counts and will have to register as a sex offender. He was acquitted of three felony sexual assault charges and a misdemeanor.
Throughout the trial, Labrie said he did not have sex with the student even though evidence showed he used a school e-mail account and Facebook to seduce the victim.
He will now have to await the judge’s final decision for sentencing, which could give him up to nine years in jail.
The Boston Globe spoke with several legal experts who offered their insight into the complexity of the case.
Albert Scherr, a former University of New Hampshire law professor, was quoted as saying that Labrie didn’t do himself any favors when he “lied to the jury” about his behavior.
It’s going to be a tough sentencing decision for the judge. What do you do with someone who has had the advantages he has had, performed as highly as he has, yet engaged in this conduct and lied to the jury about it?
Boston attorney Rikki Kliemann said Labrie’s case brings up an interesting conflict with laws which provide harsh punishment for pedophiles who troll for victims on the internet.
The law is generally used to target pedophiles who troll for victims on the Internet, not for teenagers who are convicted of what is commonly referred to as statutory rape.
An ABC News story said that Labrie’s sexual encounter with the victim was part of a school-wide tradition called “senior salute.”
Labie was a senior when the alleged crime took place.