Not Guilty Verdict In St. Paul's Rape Case

Photo: Charles Krupa/AP Photo.
Owen Labrie, the former student at the elite St. Paul's School accused of raping a younger classmate, has been found not guilty of felony sexual assault by a jury. However, he was found guilty of several misdemeanor charges.

The trial centered around a night during which the then-18-year-old Labrie persuaded a 15-year-old female student to go to the roof with him as part of a tradition of sexual competition. The young woman testified that Labrie assaulted and penetrated her with his penis despite her objections and pleas. She also testified that she only agreed to spend time with Labrie because a friend convinced her he was a good guy.

The case exposed a culture at St. Paul's where rape culture and male entitlement ran wild. Students testified about the "senior salute," a contest where upperclassmen would keep track of the number of girls, mostly younger, that they hook up with. Labrie testified that he and the young woman did not have sexual intercourse, and that the reason he didn't have sex with her was because of a moment of "divine intervention."

Despite testimony from Labrie's accuser that laid out what appeared to be a clear-cut case of rape, the jury decided on a guilty verdict only for one felony, for using a computer to "seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child under the age of 16," and four misdemeanors, ABC News reported.

Labrie will face some consequences as a result of the guilty verdict, but his acquittal on felony sexual assault charges sends a clear message that despite several high-profile rape cases, a massive effort by the Department of Justice to make schools deal better with sexual violence, and national campaigns to increase awareness, rape culture is still an overwhelming social force.

Labrie had pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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