Owen Labrie arrives in Merrimack County Superior Court for his amended sentence hearing, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, in Concord, N. H. A judge has refused to shorten the prison sentence for Labrie, a New Hampshire prep school graduate sentenced for sexual assault of a 15-year-old classmate in 2015, saying, he has to report to prison for the remaining 10 months of his sentence, the day after Christmas. (Geoff Forester/concord Monitor via AP, Pool)
CONCORD, N. H. – A judge declined Tuesday to shorten the prison sentence for an elite prep school graduate sentenced for sexual assault of a 15-year-old classmate in 2015, he says that it is necessary to consider the family of the victim, who wants him to serve the remaining 10 months of his sentence.
Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler seemed unfazed by the defense arguments that Owen Labrie, 23, of Tunbridge, Vermont was more mature and had been punished by them under a curfew and must wear an electronic monitoring device. The prosecutors wanted Labrie to serve for the remainder of his sentence.
Instead, Smukler said, his decision to uphold the sanction, taking into account justice for the victim.” He accepted a defence request that Labrie’s start with the serve of the sentence, the day after Christmas, but rejected a request that he be allowed for work release.
“Given the crimes and the circumstances, it is simply not suitable for a change in the sentence,” Smukler said.
Labrie was acquitted in 2015 of rape of a 15-year-old classmate, as part of the “Senior Salute,” a game of sexual conquest, in the St. Paul ‘ s School. But a jury found him guilty of the offence of sexual assault charges and endangering the welfare of a child. He was also sentenced for using a computer for the seduction of an underage student for sex, him to register as a sex offender.
Labrie not speak during the hearing, nor did he comment to reporters as he left the court. A number of his family members and friends also left without speaking with journalists, with a cry when they went out.
“Disappointed. It was a very long distance for him,” Labrie’s lawyer, Jaye Rancourt, said. “He was a young man at the time he was sentenced. We had hoped four years later would be a different outcome. Unfortunately it was not.”
In her case for the suspension of the punishment, Rancourt detailed how Labrie had followed the rules, because of his conviction, other than the curfew violation that resulted in him two months in prison. She noted he recently worked two jobs, partly to pay for the cost of the electronic monitoring, and presented the court with a number of letters from employers, that spoke to his character and hard work.”
Rancourt also talked about how Labrie has struggled to find work because of the case and how he and his family have been the victim of abuse, including piles of hate-mail. They acknowledge Labrie “had a great deal of remorse,” but insisted the school was also to blame for allowing “a very sexualized culture” that “promoted, if not encouraged some of this behavior.”
“He acknowledges that he has no respect for women … and that is very embarrassing for him,” Rancourt said. “This young man now has to live the rest of his life with the majority of the people in the world think that is him … while in fact it is not. He is actually a very caring, sensitive person whose life is unalterably changed by this case and the publicity that it will generate.”
In the last month, the state Supreme Court confirmed Labrie’s conviction on the computer charging. The court rejected the arguments Labrie’s lawyers that prosecutors had failed to prove intent in his use of the computer, and that the law was intended to be used for the purpose of online predators and pedophiles, not cases like this.
The court is also considering a separate appeal in that Labrie’s lawyers claim that he deserves a new trial over ineffective counsel. His lawyer argued his original council in 2015, the case failed to place a defense against the computer, charging, or effectively communicate that Labrie had no intention of having sex with Chessy Prout when he sent her the messages.
The lead trial attorney, J. W. Carney, Jr. it is a well-known lawyer whose clients included the late Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger.
Two years ago, Prout spoke publicly about the attack for the first time. Prout, now 20, and has since become an advocate for sexual assault survivors and co-writer of an autobiography, “I Have The Right To: A High School Survivor’s Story of Sexual violence, Justice, and Hope”, the Boston Globe reporter Jenn Abelson.