Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Make a gift today and you could win a trip to Portugal!

St. Paul's Grad Faces A Year In Jail For Sexual Assault

Jim Cole/AP
Owen Labrie, 20, tried to contain his emotions as the judge sentenced him Thursday to one year in jail for sexually assaulting a then 15-year-old student.

A St. Paul's School graduate convicted of sexually assaulting a then 15-year-old freshman will serve a year in county jail with five years' probation. 

But because the defense is appealing the charges, 20-year-old Owen Labrie was able to walk out of the courtroom Thursday on bail.

He will; however, have to register as a sex offender for life, but after 15 years can petition to be removed. 

Before Judge Larry Smukler read the sentencing, the victim said in a video statement that since the assault -- life has not been the same. She says she can’t sleep, has lost her appetite and gets startled easy.

“Without just and right punishment - I really don’t know how I would put one foot in front of the other," the victim said. "I don’t want to feel imprisoned for the rest of my life.  I want to be safe again,  and I want justice," she said through tears.

The victim's uncle, mother and father also spoke. "The defendant has stolen so much from my daughter and my family and what he stole, we can never get back,” the victim's father said in a statement.

With all the charges, Labrie was facing up 11 years behind bars. But with the one year sentence, Labrie could be out in eight months with good behavior.

Prior to the ruling, Labrie's lawyer J.W. Carney requested probation, counseling and community service, saying the two teenagers were friends and the hook-up was consensual. Carney added that losing a full scholarship to Harvard and having to remain as a registered sex offender is enough punishment. Labrie did not make a statement in court.

But Judge Smukler disagreed. “The consequences that you spoke about all revolve around yourself and your family – I do not consider you the victim,” he told Labrie.

"Without just and right punishment - I really don't know how I would put one foot in front of the other," the victim told the judge.

A 40-page court document from the defense also included letters from parents, former students and friends' parents describing Labrie as a star athlete and exceptional student.

In August a jury convicted Labrie of three misdemeanor  charges of sexual assault, but not of felonious aggravated sexual assault. Labrie was also convicted of using a computer to lure a minor, which requires Labrie to register as a lifetime sex offender. In an earlier ruling, Judge Smukler stated that he has no jurisdiction in altering this requirement because it is mandated by statute. 

During the trial Labrie admitted that he met up with the then 15-year-old girl for a so-called senior tradition, where seniors try to hook up with as many underclassmen as they can before they graduate, but he denied having sex with her.

On Thursday Carney again blamed the school for allowing this so-called tradition to continue - a tradition that some students treated as a contest. “Owen looked to St. Paul’s School to guide him and instead they mislead him,” Carney told the judge.

St. Paul's School has vehemently stressed that this so-called senior tradition was not sanctioned by the school and was against school policy.

While the defense appeals to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, Labrie will be out on bail and mandated curfew at his mother's home in Vermont.

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.