CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A jury was selected Monday in the trial of a prep school senior charged with raping a 15-year-old freshman as part of a tradition known as the "Senior Salute" days before he graduated.
Owen Labrie, now 19, of Tunbridge, Vermont, has pleaded not guilty to multiple felony charges, including forcible rape. Prosecutors said Labrie raped the girl in a building on the Concord campus of St. Paul's School on May 30, 2014.
The jury was sent home after being seated. Lawyers are expected to make opening statements Tuesday.
In an interview with Concord police, Labrie spoke of a school tradition called the Senior Salute in which boys about to graduate attempt to "score" with younger female students. Labrie graduated June on 1, 2014.
Labrie also told the detective of a contest in which boys compete to "score" with the most girls, keeping a running tally written in indelible marker on a wall behind washing machines. He told the detective he was "trying to be number one," the detective wrote.
A counselor who contacted police after hearing from the accuser's mother also told an investigator about the tradition, the Concord Monitor reported last year, citing a police affidavit. The affidavit said the school had been trying to educate students against "sexual scoring."
Labrie was a student leader at the school. He told the detective that he had earlier tried to educate other students not to engage in Senior Salute and that the school wasn't doing enough to curtail the tradition.
After the jury was sent home, deputy county attorney Catherine Ruffle made it clear during a hearing on several motions that the practice of the Senior Salute would be prominent during the trial.
"It is the context of this entire event," she said.
Founded in 1856, St. Paul's is an Episcopal school that counts among its alumni senators, congressmen, Pulitzer Prize winners, a Nobel laureate and Secretary of State John Kerry. It enrolls about 530 students and charges $53,810 a year for tuition, room and board.