CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The conduct of an elite prep school's former student convicted of sexually assaulting a freshman days before he graduated justifies his felony conviction for using a computer to lure her for sex, prosecutors maintained.
A jury in August convicted 19-year-old Owen Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont. His trial included lurid details that exposed a practice among students at St. Paul's School known as Senior Salute, in which graduating students try to have sex with younger classmates.
Labrie's lawyers want a judge to dismiss his conviction for using a computer to arrange his encounter with the girl on May 30, 2014, when he was 18 and she was 15. If the conviction stands, Labrie, who was bound for Harvard University and planned to take divinity classes before his arrest put everything on hold, would be ordered to register as a sex offender for life.
In court documents filed last month, Labrie's lawyers asked the trial judge to throw out the conviction or not require him to register as a sex offender for life.
"If he had merely called the 15-year-old on the telephone or spoken to her in person, there would be no additional crime," his lawyers wrote. "Yet because he prearranged the encounter through email and Facebook, he will be subjected to the scrutiny and humiliation of sex offender registration for the rest of his life."
Prosecutors, in court documents filed Thursday, countered that lifetime registration doesn't constitute cruel and unusual punishment. They noted that Labrie was an adult in the eyes of the law when the crime occurred.
"He used the Internet to exploit (the girl's) youth and innocence in an attempt to lure her into sexual activities," prosecutor Catherine Ruffle said. "In a series of artfully crafted exchanges, calculated to appeal to a youthful sense of adventure and intrigue, he led the victim to believe he wanted to show her a beautiful place on campus that only he had access to."
The encounter took place in a nearly deserted building whose roof had a panoramic view of the 2,000-acre campus in Concord. After a brief time on the roof, the girl testified, Labrie led her to a dark mechanical room, they consensually kissed and touched each other and he raped her.
Labrie said the two had consensual contact but there was no intercourse. He acknowledged he had boasted to the contrary to friends, in profane emails and social media posts that were shared with the jury. He was acquitted of the most serious charges against him, three counts of felony rape.
If the computer crime conviction stands, Labrie could be sentenced on Oct. 29 to a term ranging from probation to up to 11 years in prison.
If Labrie, who had no criminal record, is ordered to register as a sex offender for life, he would be able to petition the court to be removed from the list 15 years after the end of his sentence. His misdemeanor sex assault and child endangerment convictions require him to register for at least 10 years.
Prosecutors also argued that Labrie's motion should be rejected as having been filed too late because his lawyers did not argue at the close of the prosecution's case to dismiss the felony computer charge.
The judge has not indicated when he will rule.