The teenage girl accusing a former St. Paul's School student of raping her as part of the elite prep school’s tradition known as “Senior Salute” broke down and cried on the stand Wednesday as she graphically described the alleged assault, saying she was worried about offending her alleged attacker.
Owen Labrie, 19, is on trial in New Hampshire for allegedly luring the then-freshman girl to the top of a math and science building and raping her in May 2014. In the second day of the trial, the girl, who was 15 at the time of the alleged assault, testified that she felt scared and violated.
The girl said Labrie invited her to hang out as part of “Senior Salute,” the school’s end-of-the year tradition whereby seniors – male and female – invite underclassmen to hang out.
She initially turned down Labrie’s invitation, she said, claiming that she thought “it came with bad intentions” and that it was “too condescendingly sweet.” She said that while some girls feel honored to receive a Senior Salute, she didn’t.
Labrie persisted, she said, and she ultimately decided to accept the invite. The girl, now 16, said she’d expected they would kiss, but nothing more. The two allegedly entered an unauthorized part of campus and the girl said Labrie began kissing her.
She graphically described how their sexual encounter quickly escalated. She let him take her shirt off, she said, because she didn’t want to offend him. The girl began crying when she described how Labrie allegedly ripped her bra off. She said Labrie tried removing her underwear and that she said “no” while trying to be as polite as possible. The girl was worried about causing conflict and did not want to come off as “bitchy.”
“I didn’t know how to deal with it because I’ve never been in a situation like this,” she testified in court, while crying. “I’d never been touched in that way.”
The teen then said Labrie pulled her underwear to the side and raped her. She testified that when he was done he said, "Well, that was fun," before dressing himself and leaving her alone in the room.
"I didn't kick or scream or really push," she said in court. "I didn't. But I did say no. I said no three times."
The girl said she was worried about causing stress and told herself to “not be dramatic” because it was graduation weekend. Once prodded by friends after the alleged assault, the girl asked Labrie if he wore a condom, and he said he put one on halfway through. He asked her if she was on birth control.
The girl said she visited the school nurse and asked for Plan B. When the nurse asked her if the sex was consensual, she said it was, because "it was so much easier ... It's been really hard to stand up."
Labrie has maintained his innocence, pleading not guilty and claiming he never actually had sex with the girl, his lawyer, J.W. Carney said in court Tuesday.
When asked about friendly, affectionate emails the two exchanged following the alleged assault in which they called each other “gem” and “angel,” the girl said, “I didn’t want to be weak. I wanted to control a situation where I’d completely lost control," and that she was "trying so hard to make it less dramatic, make it less of a problem."
In the days following, the accuser claimed, Labrie made "it seem like nothing had happened," she said, "or that if [the assault] had happened, he had no idea [I] was saying no."
Labrie sent her another Facebook message, the accuser said, referring to rumors around the school and saying they needed to "let people know what's really up," the message said, "since we never had sex." The girl said she was "utterly disgusted" and felt she was being manipulated.
A few days after the alleged assault, following what the girl described as a "disturbing" online post from a male student and friend, the teen said she "broke down" and told her mother about the assault.
Her mother came to campus with her the next day to talk to an advisor, the girl said, but she was too embarrassed to tell them the details of the assault. She said they then went to Concord Hospital for a "rape kit."
The girl said she returned to the school after summer vacation then left permanently in November, 2014.
When Carney, Labrie's attorney, asked her in a cross examination if she received other "Senior Salute" invitations that she turned down, she said yes. No one was forcing her to accept Labrie's invitation, she said.
Carney read the accuser a transcript of detective's interview with a friend of hers. The friend says the girl told her she was planning on letting Labrie perform some sexual acts on her, but "at most I'll blow him," the transcript read.
The girl said she had no recollection of saying that.
On Thursday, the victim's mother and friend, as well as the school nurse, took the stand and all testified that the victim acted anxious and was crying the days following the alleged assault.
"She was not herself at all," the girl's mother said in court. "She was crying hysterically."
While the school nurse said the victim told her the sex was "not coerced," the girl appeared anxious and teary-eyed.
In the afternoon, the judge issued a gag-order preventing reporters from live-tweeting from the courtroom.
Mary Ann Georgantopoulos is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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Ema O'Connor is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
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