The St. Paul’s School Rape Survivor Comes Forward

Update: The survivor in a high-profile sexual assault case at a prestigious New England prep school broke her silence with a powerful message on Tuesday. "I want everyone to know that I am not afraid or ashamed anymore, and I never should have been,'' 17-year-old Chessy Prout said as she came forward for the first time during an interview on NBC's Today show. "It's been two years now since the whole ordeal, and I feel ready to stand up and own what happened to me and make sure other people, other girls and boys, don't need to be ashamed, either." Prout, who was 15 at the time of the incident, told the Today show that the criminal trial could have been avoided. "We had been prepared to just receive an apology letter,'' she said. "We had been prepared to finish this and just move forward with our lives and let them move forward with their lives, but, you know what, in the pursuit of justice, I would've done anything." During the trial, which made international headlines, Prout took the stand and testified for three days. In the end, Labrie was found not guilty of felony rape, but was convicted on three counts of misdemeanor sexual assault, felony illegal use of a computer to solicit children under the age of 16, and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a minor. He was sentenced last year, and is currently appealing his verdict. "I hope he learns,'' Prout said. "I hope he gets help. And that's all I can ever hope for in any sort of process like this. Because if he doesn't learn, he will do it to another young woman." In June, her family filed a civil suit against the school, arguing that the institution had failed to protect the minors entrusted in their care. "We categorically deny that there ever existed at the school a culture or tradition of sexual assault," St. Paul’s School told Today in a statement. “However, there’s no denying the survivor’s experience caused us to look anew at the culture and environment. This fresh look has brought about positive changes at the school." Meanwhile, Prout is currently working with Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment (PAVE), a nonprofit dedicated to "prevent sexual assault and heal survivors through social advocacy, prevention education, and survivor support." "I want other people to feel empowered and just strong enough to be able to say, 'I have the right to my body. I have the right to say no,''' she said. "I just can't imagine how scary it is for other people to have to do this alone, and I don't want anybody else to be alone anymore," she added.

This article was originally published on August 29, 2016.
The young survivor of a high-profile sex assault case at a prestigious New England prep school is set to share her story in an interview on NBC's Today show Tuesday. The case and trial surrounding the 2014 incident on the campus of St. Paul's School made international headlines. Former student Owen Labrie, a senior at the time, was sentenced to one year in prison on charges related to the assault. The survivor, who has remained anonymous, was a 15-year-old freshman.
The assault occurred amid an on-campus competition known as the "Senior Salute," during which male seniors reportedly tried to have sex with as many younger peers as possible before graduation. The survivor said she met with Labrie on a campus rooftop after he courted her via email. What began as consensual kissing escalated into rape, she testified, as he penetrated her with his fingers and penis after she repeatedly told him no.

A jury found Labrie not guilty of felony rape, but delivered a guilty verdict on charges that he used a computer to solicit children under the age of 16, a felony. He was also convicted on several other misdemeanor charges related to statutory rape. Labrie, who must register as a sex offender under the decision, has appealed his conviction. The interview between the survivor and NBC's Savannah Guthrie is scheduled to air on Today, which runs from 7 to 11 a.m.

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