Judge sends former prep school student to prison

Reuters News
|
Posted: Mar 18, 2016 8:45 AM

By Ted Siefer

CONCORD, N.H. (Reuters) - A New Hampshire judge on Friday ordered a former prep school student to begin serving a one-year prison sentence after violating his curfew in a high-profile case over sex at elite St. Paul's School.

The student, Owen Labrie, 20, was sentenced last year for felony luring as well as misdemeanor charges related to having a sexual encounter with a minor in a trial that shone a harsh light on the school and its student tradition of a "senior salute," in which students in their final year seek underclassmen for sexual encounters.

Labrie had been out on bail while a appealing his conviction to the New Hampshire Supreme Court. But Judge Larry Smukler ruled on Friday that he had violated a curfew that required him to be in his mother's home in Tunbridge, Vermont from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Prosecutors contended that Labrie had violated these conditions repeatedly by traveling to Boston, in part to visit a girlfriend.

Labrie's attorney insisted that his trips to the Boston area were to meet with lawyers or for educational purposes.

Smukler rejected that argument.

"I don't know if you went down to Boston to consult with somebody, to meet with a girlfriend, or to pursue educational opportunities," Smukler said Friday. "There have been credibility issues throughout this trial."

Labrie was taken out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

Prosecutors had submitted documents indicating that Labrie repeatedly purchased bus tickets to and from Boston that necessitated violating his curfew.

Labrie's attorney, Jaye Rancourt, admitted that he traveled outside the curfew three times, but she said he was concerned about threats to his safety if his activities were publicized through a formal court motion seeking permission for the trips.

"Telling the public, telling the media, where your client is at all times is not safe," Rancourt said. "He chose, wrongly admittedly, to fly under the radar ... He's sorry for that."

St. Paul's is one of the nation's top prep schools, and its alumni include well-known figures in business and politics, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

(This version of the story was refiled to fix the misspelling of chose in paragraph 11.)

(Reporting by Ted Siefer; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Tom Brown and Cynthia Osterman)