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Ex-classmates testify that St. Paul’s grad Owen Labrie boasted about encounter

Last modified: 8/25/2015 12:20:29 AM
Using Owen Labrie’s own words, friends and former St. Paul’s School classmates Monday continued to mount the case against him by portraying the alleged sexual assailant as an impish ringleader with a flair for theatrical, at times lewd, and graphic language.

“Welcome to an eight-week exercise in debauchery, a probing exploration of the innermost meanings of the word ‘sleeze bag,’ ” the then-18-year-old wrote in an email to peers in March 2014, describing the coming season of “senior salutes,” when graduating students proposition underclassmen, sometimes for sex.

“We will be exploring several essential questions,” Labrie wrote, as recited by former classmate and recipient Tucker Marchese. “Is life on earth heaven? Are there any gazelles left in this desolate savannah? Can sisters be slain in the same evening?”

Marchese was one of several current and former male students at the Concord prep school who testified Monday in Labrie’s trial on felonious sexual assault, now in its second week. The trial has called attention to the sexual culture at the elite school, and Monday’s testimony offered yet another unsavory glimpse into it.

Labrie, 19, is accused of forcing himself on a 15-year-old freshman in a campus building May 30, 2014. The Vermont native, who had been Harvard-bound, insists the encounter was consensual and that it stopped short of sex.

But several friends suggested otherwise Monday, testifying that he personally boasted about the encounter, admitting to some that he had sex, and suggesting as much to others.

“He eventually told me that, in his words, that he ‘boned’ her,” recalled Andrew Thomson, Labrie’s roommate at the time. He said he understood that to mean they had sexual intercourse.

Two other former classmates said Labrie explicitly used the word “sex” when privately describing the encounter to them, and another two recalled a similar admission, but not necessarily including that word.

“I’m slaying (the accuser),” Malcolm Salovaara, a 2013 alum now studying at Dartmouth, recalled Labrie telling him the weekend of the encounter, which coincided with graduation. Though he offered a slightly different account on the stand, Salovaara told police last year that Labrie said he had sex with the girl.

One acquaintance, an underclassman who persuaded the girl to accept Labrie’s senior salute invitation, said Labrie cheekily described the encounter to a group of male students the night of the encounter, before admitting explicitly to him that sex had occurred.

“He said no but nodded his head yes,” the student, 16, said. He then read a series of messages Labrie reportedly sent him after he persuaded the girl to accept the invitation.

“You’re a f---ing dog,” Labrie wrote, according to his reading. “I will owe you 10,000 BJs.”

The defense, faced with a barrage of unflattering remarks, tried to contextualize Labrie’s tone and language, noting that vulgarity is common in high school, and that young men are known to embellish their sexual experience – or lack thereof. The accuser herself allegedly used slang to describe her sexual expectations of the encounter, reminded lead defense attorney J.W. Carney.

Indeed, Labrie was not alone: Salovaara and Marchese, for one, each used their own crude language when corresponding with him.

“Who do you want to pork more than anyone, bro,” Salovaara wrote in a Facebook message four months before the encounter, using a slang term for intercourse. Labrie responded with the girl’s name.

Salovaara said he and Labrie created a Facebook group with another St. Paul’s student called “Slayers Anonymous.” He described it as a way to stay in touch.

Marchese acknowledged, seemingly reluctantly, that he and Labrie crafted a list that spring of 19 girls who “we would enjoy getting to know better.” He recalled Labrie telling him he had sex with the girl. He later responded online, “I can’t believe you poked her, dude.”

The school had at least some knowledge of the climate in which the encounter occurred. Chad Green, dean of students at St. Paul’s, testified late Monday that he was aware of the senior salute tradition, having learned about it in spring 2013.

“I came to understand the senior salute as one element of a larger vernacular the kids at St. Paul’s used to describe a wide range of relations between students, some of which, I would say, included sexual” engagement, Green said. He added that he was unsure how many other school officials knew about it.

Green’s office appointed Labrie as a prefect, or student leader, his senior year. The position includes training in the prevention and reporting of statutory rape, he said.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)


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