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Affidavit details alleged St. Paul’s sexual assault

A student tradition in which seniors try to have sexual contact with younger students led to an alleged sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl at St. Paul’s School this spring, according to an affidavit filed this week.

Owen Labrie, 18, of Tunbridge, Vt., has been charged with three counts of felonious sexual assault, as well as three misdemeanor counts of sexual assault. Labrie also faces a felony charge of using a computer service to lure the girl to him. He turned himself in to the Concord police July 16.

Labrie has denied having sex with the girl, and while St. Paul’s administrators have cooperated with the police, none have commented further on what the affidavit termed a tradition at the prestigious boarding school. But details of the reported assault and criminal investigation are outlined in the document. A Concord police detective used that affidavit to obtain a search warrant for Labrie’s Facebook and email records, which she wrote could lead to other potential victims.

Labrie graduated June 1; The alleged assault took place two days prior, on May 30. According to the affidavit, St. Paul’s counselor Sandra Whalen contacted the Concord Police Department on June 3 after being notified by the mother of the alleged victim.

“Whalen informed me that there is a horrible tradition at the boarding school called the ‘senior salute’ in which a senior emails a younger student regarding a ‘conquest’ before they graduate,” the detective, Julie Curtin, wrote.

Labrie sent a “senior salute” email to a 15-year-old freshman May 28, and she declined. Labrie then asked a male freshman in his dorm, who is friends with the victim, to “put in a good word for him,” the affidavit states. In an interview with the police, the girl said she was aware Labrie and other boys were competing as to how many girls they could “hook up” with before the end of the school year.

“When she accepted Owen Labrie’s ‘senior salute,’ her understanding was that it would be ‘just a hook up,’ which to her meant kissing or making out and ‘that’s all,’ ” the affidavit states.

On May 30, Labrie allegedly took the girl to a secluded maintenance area in the Lindsay Center for Mathematics and Science on St. Paul’s campus. He was not authorized to have the key he used to get into that area. The two started kissing, but when he tried to pull off her underwear, she resisted several times, according to the affidavit. Labrie started to have sex with her, and when the girl realized what was happening, she said no twice and at one point pulled back in pain.

“She stated she did not know that was going to happen and did not want that to happen,” the detective wrote. “I asked her if there was ever any conversation where she said yes and she said there was not.”

In subsequent Facebook messages, Labrie began to ask the girl about rumors he was hearing from his friends. He wrote that “for so many reasons we need to make sure people don’t think the wrong thing,” and “people have been saying some scary things considering we never had sex,” according to the affidavit.

“I have to trust you’ve got my back and you make sure the right people know what’s actually up,” he said in another message.

The girl was examined at Concord Hospital on June 3. Results are still pending from the state lab, but the sexual assault nurse examiner advised the girl had “a laceration that would be consistent with penetration having occurred,” the affidavit states.

In an interview with the police, Labrie denied having sex with the girl. But Labrie told their mutual friend from his dorm that he did have sex with her, and then asked him not to tell anybody.

That boy told the police “that Owen Labrie knows that what he did was not legal and explained this was because (the girl) was too young,” the affidavit states.

Labrie sent a “senior salute” email to at least one other St. Paul’s freshman in February, and that girl’s mother forwarded the email to investigators. The police have requested a review of all data from Labrie’s senior year at St. Paul’s because he could have sent these messages to other students who are under the age of consent. The city’s prosecutor’s office declined to comment.

“Investigation is ongoing, and review of Owen Labrie’s email account and his Facebook account may reveal other potential victims or witnesses in this case,” the affidavit states.

A spokesman for St. Paul’s said the school could not comment on the case. But the affidavit mentions Labrie was a prefect in his dorm, and he had signed an agreement to be a student leader and a positive role model. He had received training in statutory rape and consensual sex. Chad Green, the dean of students, told the detective that all students “were recently advised of the school’s mandatory reporting requirements.”

“St. Paul’s School has advised that ‘sexual scoring’ and ‘the scoring culture’ is a hot topic and something that they have been trying to educate against,” the affidavit states.

St. Paul’s houses about 540 high school students. The school’s rector, Mike Hirschfeld, addressed Labrie’s arrest earlier this month in a message to parents.

“When this matter was first brought to our attention by the young woman involved, we reported it to the authorities, as is our obligation, and we are cooperating fully with law enforcement,” Hirschfeld wrote. “This situation has been alarming to me personally and to all adults here, in a community that values healthy relationships so highly.

“Whatever further developments become known in this case, a serious breach of our standards of mutual trust and respect has occurred. I am determined to learn if this alleged violation is an aberration or represents a broader issue that our many school-wide conversations about a healthy community have not sufficiently addressed.”

Labrie was set to attend Harvard University this fall. The day he was arrested, Labrie was then released on $15,000 personal recognizance bail. If convicted, he could face multiple years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender. His attorney has not yet filed an appearance with the court.

He is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 15 in Concord.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

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