The defence's central argument in an elite boarding school rape case may have hit a big snag

Owen Labrie St. Paul's School Student Court TrialGeoff Forester/The Concord Monitor via APFormer St. Paul’s student Owen Labrie waits for the second day of his trial to begin at Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015.

Multiple current and former students at St. Paul’s School testified Monday that a graduate named Owen Labrie told them he had sex with a 15-year-old female student who’s accusing him of sexual assault.

This testimony conflicts with Labrie’s claims that he never had sex with the girl.

Labrie, now 19 years old, graduated from the elite boarding school in 2014 and is accused of raping the female student in connection with a longstanding school tradition when he was a senior and she was a freshman.

While both parties acknowledge some consensual touching and kissing, Labrie denied having sexual intercourse with the girl in an interview with police in June 2014. His lawyer has maintained in court that there was never penetration.

The freshman was prominently featured in capital letters on a list of girls for his “senior salute” — “a school ritual in which older students proposition younger ones for as much intimacy as they can get away with: a kiss, touching, or more,” according to The New York Times. Prosecutors argued in court that the female student resisted when Labrie attempted to take her underwear off and, despite that, he then had sex with her.

The case is attracting national attention due to the prominence of St. Paul’s, an elite boarding school often compared to an Ivy League university. Labrie was set to study theology at Harvard University after he graduated in 2014, although his acceptance appears to have been rescinded following the rape charges.

“We’re curious whether rich people, smart people, behave differently than us,” University of New Hampshire Law Professor Buzz Scherr told NH1. “The other wrinkle is that there is a culture at St. Paul’s that may exist in other elite schools.”

The first witness on Monday — a freshman male who helped convince the accuser to meet up with Labrie — testified that the senior said he had sex with her:

Labrie’s roommate from his senior year at St. Paul’s also testified that the defendant told him the two had had sex: 

A third witness testified similarly:


A fourth witness — who helped Labrie create the “senior salute” list — testified that he was told by Labrie that the two had sex: 

As Labrie’s lawyer Jay Carney notes, though, just because his client told people he had sex with the female freshman, does not mean that the students ever did: 

However, these students’ testimonies join other evidence previously cited in court that seem to cast doubt on Labrie’s claim that the two never had sex.

“Prosecutors said the accuser’s underwear had been examined by investigators, who found DNA that may have been Mr. Labrie’s; in one of the online exchanges Mr. Carney read in court, the accuser asked Mr. Labrie if he had worn a condom, and he said he had,” The Times reported. Other messages discussed whether the female student was on birth control, according to NBC News.

The defence, though, maintained the two students never had sexual intercourse, according to The Times.

“Mr. Carney said the evidence would show that although their bodies rubbed together, their underwear was still on and that Mr. Labrie ultimately decided not to have sex with her,” The Times reported.

Explaining his decision not to have sex with the female student, Labrie told police investigators he experienced a “moment of divine inspiration,” NBC reports.

Labrie, according to NBC, “is charged with three counts of aggravated felony sex assault, four counts of misdemeanour sex assault, endangering the welfare of a child and using a computer to lure her to meet him via email and Facebook.”

Business Insider has reached out to Labrie’s lawyer for any comment about Monday’s testimony.

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