Aug 18, 2015 7:30 PM

Owen Labrie rape case defense: Teen girls chosen for St. Paul's 'Senior Salute' were 'honored'

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story contains graphic descriptions of a sexual encounter, and may be disturbing to some readers.

CONCORD - Defense attorney Jay Carney said Tuesday that teenage girls who were chosen to participate in the Senior Salute at St. Paul's School were honored to be chosen by graduating men.

READ: Owen Labrie's accuser to resume testimony in St. Paul's rape trial

During his opening statements in Owen Labrie's rape trial, Carney said the freshmen, sophomore and junior girls who graduating men chose found "pride" in being asked to spend time with the upperclassmen in the last months before they went on to college.

The Senior Salute at the prestigious prep school is a decades old tradition, where high school seniors spend time with underclassmen before they graduate. But as Labrie's case uncovered, often it is the opportunity for graduating men to compete about how many girls they could conquer sexually.

In Labrie's case, it is alleged that he was so desperate to win the sordid sex game that he actually lured a 15-year-old freshman to the rooftop of a math and science building, and then into a mechanical room, before raping her against her will.

READ: Owen Labrie rape trial focuses on 'Senior Salute' at St. Paul's School, is gaining international interest

The teen was worth more points in the game, prosecutors claim, because Labrie had been with a relative of hers before. He even put the girl's name in capital letters on a list of 15 to 20 women he wanted to solicit for sex.

Assistant County Attorney Catherine Russell said Labrie planned his interaction with the girl for months, and as she started to resist him, he pulled down her bra strap and bit her in the chest.

Then he pulled down her panties, Russell said, and had his way with her, despite her protests. She walked out of the building alone, and after getting Plan B, eventually told her mother, and police.

The now 16-year-old started her testimony in court Tuesday afternoon. She was given a tissue as she walked in, and broke down once she was asked to describe Labrie for the record.

The girl said that she had no prior contact with Labrie before the alleged assault, except in passing, and that in photos of the two of them, he had just popped in, never even having a conversation with her.

She told the jury she believed the Senior Salute was a chance to hang out with graduating men before they left the school, but she knew sometimes male students tried to solicit girls for sex. That is why she originally turned down Labrie's initial email request to hang out.

Labrie's alleged victim changed her mind after speaking to a boy in her own class, who convinced her Labrie was genuine.

After proceedings on Tuesday, NH1 News asked Carney if he thought it is offensive to women to suggest that teen girls are proud to participate in the salute, where the goal is often to take a teenager's virginity. He became perturbed, and refused to answer the question.

The girl will continue testifying Wednesday at Merrimack County Superior Court.

Follow Kimberley Haas on Twitter @KHaasNH1.


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