Prep school graduate gets a year in jail for sexual assault

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Owen Labrie Sentenced to a Year in Jail for Sexual Assault at Prep School

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- A graduate of an exclusive New England prep school was sentenced Thursday to a year in jail for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old freshman girl as part of a competition among upperclassmen to rack up sexual conquests.

Owen Labrie, 20, of Tunbridge, Vermont, was also ordered to register as a sex offender, perhaps for the rest of his life, and serve five years of probation after he gets out of jail.

He could have received 11 years behind bars.

SEE MORE: Girl in prep school case says she lives in fear

In imposing the sentence, Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler called Labrie a "very good liar."

A glum-looking Labrie hugged his weeping mother. He was allowed to remain free on bail while he appeals his conviction.

The case scandalized St. Paul's School in Concord, a 159-year-old institution that has long educated future members of America's elite. Its alumni include Secretary of State John Kerry, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, at least 13 U.S. ambassadors and three Pulitzer Prize winners.

Labrie was originally charged with rape, accused of forcing himself on the girl in a dark mechanical room in 2014, just before his graduation. He was 18 at the time. A jury in August cleared him of rape and convicted him instead of misdemeanor sexual assault for having intercourse and other sexual contact with an underage girl.

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Prep school graduate gets a year in jail for sexual assault
Owen Labrie, center, listens to a recorded statement from his victim with his lawyer J.W. Carney, left, and Sam Zaganjoir before being sentenced in Merrimack County Superior Court Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, in Concord, N.H. The graduate of the exclusive St. Paulâs School was sentenced to a year in jail for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old freshman girl as part of a tradition in which upperclassmen competed to rack up sexual conquests. Labrie was allowed to remain free on bail while he appeals his conviction. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, Pool)
Owen Labrie, center, listens to his lawyer J.W. Carney before being sentenced in Merrimack County Superior Court Thursday Oct. 29, 2015 in Concord, N.H. The graduate of the exclusive St. Paulâs School was sentenced to a year in jail for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old freshman girl as part of a tradition in which upperclassmen competed to rack up sexual conquests. Labrie was allowed to remain free on bail while he appeals his conviction. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, Pool)
Former St. Paul's student Owen Labrie puts his hands to his face as his verdict is read at Merrimack County Superior Court on Friday, Aug. 28, 2015 in Concord, N.H. Labrie was cleared of felony rape but convicted of misdemeanor sex offenses Friday against a 15-year-old girl in a case that exposed a campus tradition in which the oldest students competed to see how many younger students they could have sex with. Each count carries up to a year behind bars. Labrie could get as much as 11 years in prison at sentencing Oct. 29. He will also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. (Geoff Forester/The Concord Monitor via AP, Pool)
Owen Labrie closes his eyes as his verdict is read at Merrimack County Superior Court on Friday, Aug. 28, 2015 in Concord, N.H. Labrie was cleared of felony rape but convicted of misdemeanor sex offenses Friday against a 15-year-old girl in a case that exposed a campus tradition in which the oldest students competed to see how many younger students they could have sex with. Each count carries up to a year behind bars. Labrie could get as much as 11 years in prison at sentencing Oct. 29. He will also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. (Geoff Forester/The Concord Monitor via AP, Pool)
Owen Labrie leaves Merrimack Superior Court with his attorney Jay Carney in Concord, N.H. , on Friday, Aug. 28, 2015 in Concord, N.H. Labrie was cleared of felony rape but convicted of misdemeanor sex offenses Friday against a 15-year-old girl in a case that exposed a campus tradition in which the oldest students of St. Paul's School competed to see how many younger students they could have sex with. Each count carries up to a year behind bars. Labrie could get as much as 11 years in prison at sentencing Oct. 29. He will also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. (Geoff Forester/The Concord Monitor via AP, Pool)
Owen Labrie looks over at jury as his verdict is read at Merrimack County Superior Court on Friday, Aug. 28, 2015 in Concord, N.H. Labrie was cleared of felony rape but convicted of misdemeanor sex offenses Friday against a 15-year-old girl in a case that exposed a campus tradition in which the oldest students competed to see how many younger students they could have sex with. Each count carries up to a year behind bars. Labrie could get as much as 11 years in prison at sentencing Oct. 29. He will also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. (Geoff Forester/The Concord Monitor via AP, Pool)
Attorney J.W. Carney puts his arm around Owen Labrie, as he weeps in court after his verdict is read at Merrimack County Superior Court on Friday, Aug. 28, 2015 in Concord, N.H. Labrie was cleared of felony rape but convicted of misdemeanor sex offenses Friday against a 15-year-old girl in a case that exposed a campus tradition in which the oldest students competed to see how many younger students they could have sex with. Each count carries up to a year behind bars. Labrie could get as much as 11 years in prison at sentencing Oct. 29. He will also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. (Geoff Forester/The Concord Monitor via AP, Pool)
FILE - In this Aug. 26, 2015, file photo, St. Paul's School graduate Owen Labrie, 19, raises his hand to be sworn-in prior to testifying in his trial at Merrimack Superior Court in Concord, N.H. Labrie was convicted Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, of having sexual contact with a 15-year-old classmate. He will be required to register as a sex offender for life, a punishment his lawyer likened to being branded and legal experts and reform advocates said exceeds the crime. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, Pool, File)
Former St. Paul's School student Owen Labrie looks around the courtroom during a break in his trial Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015, in Concord, N.H. Labrie is charged with raping a 15-year-old freshman as part of Senior Salute, a practice of sexual conquest at the prestigious St. Paul's School in Concord. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, Pool)
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He was also found guilty of a felony count of using a computer - specifically, Facebook and email - to lure the girl. Under New Hampshire law, anyone convicted of a felony sex crime must register for life as a sex offender, though Labrie can petition to be removed from the list 15 years after he finishes his sentence.

With good behavior, he could also be out of jail in eight months.

Labrie did not speak in court, instead submitting a statement that was not immediately made public. But the judge found it lacking: "The consequences you spoke about all revolve around yourself and your family. They do not consider the victim."

Labrie's arrest exposed a tradition at the $55,290-a-year boarding school called Senior Salute, in which upperclassmen kept score of how many younger students they had sex with.

Labrie, an aspiring divinity student and captain of the soccer team, told authorities that he and the girl had consensual sexual contact but not intercourse, saying he stopped short in a sudden moment of "divine intervention."

In a videotaped statement played in court Thursday, the girl, now 17, said she was subjected to verbal and physical retaliation from other students after her return to St. Paul's and has been living in almost constant fear since the assault.

She said she has been made to feel as if she "didn't deserve to live" and "would be better off being dead."

Prosecutor Catherine Ruffle had asked the judge to give Labrie 3½ to 7 years in prison.

"The evidence was very clear this was not a date," she said. "This was a mission for him. This was a sexual conquest. It was a game." Crude Facebook exchanges between Labrie and friends "show his true attitudes toward young women. His style is to feign intimacy, then throw them in the dumpster."

She said there is no question Labrie is "a gifted individual. He is intelligent, articulate, engaging - often the same qualities we see in very dangerous sexual predators."

Labrie's lawyer, J.W. Carney Jr., argued for probation and community service, saying that what the jury called sexual assault was really a "consensual encounter between two teenagers."

Carney said his client felt "enormous remorse," and he lamented that Labrie will be marked for the rest of his life by having to register as a sex offender. He suggested that Labrie had been severely punished already.

"He's now known by so many people as the St. Paul's rapist even though the jury rejected that moniker," Carney said. "His life has been one of trauma trying to deal with these allegations and the emotion of the trial."

In the wake of the scandal, Labrie lost his full scholarship to Harvard, and St. Paul's refused to add his name to an engraved list of graduates.

As the sentencing approached, Carney also accused prosecutors of overreaching in bringing the luring-by-computer count, saying the charge was intended to protect young people from adult predators who use bogus identities online.

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