Chessy Prout, Owen Labrie's Sex Assault Victim, Speaks Out Publicly
The victim in the Owen Labrie sexual assault case is speaking out publicly for the first time.
In an interview Tuesday morning on NBC’s The Today Show, 17-year-old Chessy Prout spoke about her decision to reveal her identity.
“It’s been two years now since the whole ordeal and I feel ready to stand up and own what happened to me and I’m going to make sure other people, other girls, other boys, know that they can own it too and that they don't have to be ashamed, either.”
Prout was 15 at the time of the assault, which took place on the St. Paul’s School campus in Concord.
Labrie was convicted of misdemeanor sexual assault, but was acquitted of felony rape charges. He’s free on bail during an appeal.
In the interview, Prout says she was disappointed by the jury’s decision.
"They said that they didn't think he did it knowingly, and that frustrated me a lot because he definitely did do it knowingly," she said. "The fact that he was still able to pull the wool over a group of people's eyes bothered me a lot and just disgusted me in some way."
She initially returned to the school, but says it was too difficult and she eventually switched to a different school.
"Everybody pretty much knew. None of my old friends who were boys would talk to me. They didn't even look me in the eyes. I guess they were uncomfortable. And nobody was talking about the issue itself. They weren't trying to prevent it from happening to anyone else."
Prout's father, Alex, is a St. Paul's School graduate, as is her older sister.
"If ever there was a family to work with, it would have been our family," Prout's mother, Susan, said in the interview. "We loved the school. My husband had a wonderful experience there. We thought our first daughter had a good experience there. And unfortunately, it seems like the school's reputation became more important, rather than supporting our daughter."
Prout says she hopes Labrie learns from what happened and gets help. She's now hoping to start a campaign for survivors of sexual assault.
"We have been talking about a woman's bill of rights. I decided I want other people's input. I want other people to feel empowered and just strong enough to say I have the right to my body. I have the right to say no," she said. "I wanted to bring this initiative that would be a hashtag #IHaveTheRightTo and to have people contribute to it."
Prout says she still suffers from panic attacks, but her family has helped her get through it.
"I just can't imagine how scary it is for other people to have to do this alone and I don't want anybody else to be alone anymore."
Her parents have filed a federal lawsuit against St. Paul’s, claiming the school failed to protect their daughter. The school denies those allegations.