Labrie's lawyer argued his politically-connected roommate also had sex with underage girl, but never charged
CONCORD - Lawyers for Owen Labrie argued that his St. Paul's School roommate was also having sex with an underage student but never charged, a newly-released transcript from Labrie's trial shows.
The state Supreme Court released transcripts today from Labrie's 2015 trial. The St. John's graduate was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old freshman as part of a game of sexual conquest.
The transcripts show Labrie's lawyer J.W. Carney suggested to Judge Larry Smukler that his client's roommate Andrew Thomson was also having sex with a 15-year-old classmate and school officials knew about it, but did not report it. Thomson is the son of Lucy Hodder, Gov. Maggie Hassan’s former legal counsel and a member of St. Paul’s board of trustees.
“The girl’s mother checked (Thomson’s) e-mails and Facebook, and believed that this witness had had sex with the girl,” Carney said, according to the transcript. “She wanted there to be an investigation by the Concord police. Ultimately the matter was resolved whereby if this witness agreed to stay away from the campus for three years while the first year student completed her studies, that would be the [impetus].”
Carney goes on to imply that Thomson was essentially given a pass because of Hodder’s connections. Thomson is now a sophomore at Brown University. He testified at trial about how Labrie boasted to him about his encounter with the 15-year-old girl at the center of the trial.
“So this matter, if it’s just consensual sex with a first-year student, gets handled with his agreeing to stay away from the campus, in contrast to my client who has, you know, powerful connections to make to the school or to the community,” Carney said. Smukler ultimately barred the information from trial, agreeing with prosecutors that it lacked relevance.
On cross-examination, according to the transcript, Carney began to question Thomson about the freshman with whom he had been exchanging online messages. But Cherniske objected, and asked for both sides to approach the bench.
“I don’t know why this witness’s engaging with girls on campus has anything to do with why we’re here,” Cherniske said.
“Your Honor,” Carney replied, “it’s being offered to show them potential bias and prejudice of the witness in the favor of the Concord police.”
Carney explained that Thomson had agreed to cooperate with investigators early on, and would have had incentive because his alleged conduct “would have been the same crime that (Labrie) here is charged with.”
“He knew he was in the same situation,” Carney said, “and he knew that the mother of the alleged girl had wanted to begin and investigation because of this.”
Thomson was one of four former friends of Labrie’s who testified about his comments about and behavior toward female students in the spring of 2014, when he was a senior who had just been admitted to Harvard. Many included crude language and came off as hypersexualized.
Carney tried to place the remarks in context, but stopped short of accusing any specific student of the same charges against Labrie. He noted that vulgarity is common in high school, and that teenage boys are known to embellish their sexual experiences. And he highlighted notes from some of the friends who testified, and said that one of them, a classmate named Tucker Marchese, had crafted a list with Labrie of 19 girls who, as Marchese put it, “we would enjoy getting to know better.”
After Labrie admitted the encounter at the center of the case, Marchese said, he responded online, “I can’t believe you poked her, dude.”
While the trial focused on a particular encounter, on May 30, 2014, it also centered on a growing tradition among seniors at the school in which they competed for dates – sometimes to include sex – with underclassman. The school knew of the practice, called senior salute, as early as 2013.
A spokeswoman for St. Paul’s did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday. Nor did Thomson or Hodder, or a spokesman for the Concord police.
Prosecutors have tried to seal the transcript of the bench meeting, but the Supreme Court said it had no legal grounds to do so.
Hodder joined the St. Paul’s board in 2012, and became Hassan’s legal counsel the next year. Before that, she was an assistant attorney general. She is currently the director of health law and policy programs at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.