Breaking News Emails
Jurors returned to court Friday to resume deliberations in a rape trial pitting the credibility of a former student of an elite New Hampshire prep school against his accuser.
In closing arguments Thursday, prosecutors asked the jury of three women and nine men to review the evidence and center their verdict on two questions: Did the defendant, Owen Labrie, sexually penetrate his accuser, and if so, was it done without her consent?
Labrie, now 19, faces nine criminal counts in the alleged rape of a freshman girl in May 2014 at their boarding academy, the prestigious St. Paul's School in Concord.
The two-week trial has cast a harsh light on the school, whose alumni include Secretary of State John Kerry, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, a Kennedy and three Vanderbilts.
Prosecutors say Labrie, through emails and Facebook messages, manipulated the then-15-year-old freshman to meet him two days before his graduation in a secluded attic on campus, where consensual physical touching progressed into intercourse that she did not want to have.
DNA evidence presented at trial indicated there was the presence of Labrie's semen inside his accuser's underwear.
"He was going to get what he wanted and not take 'no' for an answer," prosecutor Joseph Cherniske told the jury on Thursday.
The defense gave a different account: The young woman was friends with Labrie, was willingly with him in the attic, and made up being sexually assaulted to protect her reputation when her older sister learned she had spent time with the defendant.
Labrie has denied that he had intercourse with his accuser, saying that "divine inspiration" stopped him from going further even after he put on a condom. He testified Wednesday that he only told his friends he had sex with the girl because he wanted to look good in front of them.
Defense lawyer Jay Carney said that the alleged victim never indicated she felt violated in subsequent emails and messages with Labrie following their encounter.
"She had to make a decision whether it was her reputation that was going to go in the toilet or Owen's," Carney said Thursday. "She took the easier choice."
Labrie has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, including three counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, which each carry up to 20 years in prison.