Convicted prep school grad doesn't regret turning down deal

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TUNBRIDGE, VT. >> A graduate of an exclusive New England prep school convicted of sexually assaulting a younger student says he doesn't regret rejecting a plea deal.

Owen Labrie told Newsweek magazine that "not caving" is what kept him going, despite being sentenced to a year in jail and being required to register as a sex offender for life.

The 20-year-old from Tunbridge, Vermont, had rejected several plea bargains that would have meant less jail time — including as little as 30 days — and no registration.

A jury in August convicted Labrie of misdemeanor sex assault charges and a felony charge of using a computer to lure a 15-year-old girl for sex just days before he graduated from St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. It's that felony conviction that carries the mandate to register as a sex offender for life.

The magazine article, published Friday, said the girl and her family declined to be interviewed.

Labrie, who is free on bail, did not discuss the 2014 encounter itself, citing his appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

His lawyers have said they will challenge whether Labrie should have been ordered to register as a sex offender for life. They have said the registration shouldn't apply because Labrie was acquitted of rape, and that lawmakers meant the law to apply to adults preying on children, not to two teenagers who routinely used computers to communicate.

Labrie was 18 at the time of the encounter in a near-deserted building on the St. Paul's campus. Prosecutors linked the assault to a competition known as the "Senior Salute" in which seniors seek to have sex with underclassmen.

Labrie's lawyer, J.W. Carney Jr., had argued for a sentence of probation and community service, saying that what the jury called sexual assault was a "consensual encounter between two teenagers."

Labrie, now listed on Vermont's sex offender registry, told Newsweek he "walked out of the courthouse with my chin up."

"The only thing that sustained me was knowing I had told the truth," he said.

He testified that he and the girl had consensual sexual contact after he invited her to participate in Senior Salute, but he denied having intercourse with her. The girl acknowledged going willingly with Labrie but said she was unprepared when he became aggressive.

Labrie had been accepted to Harvard University and planned to take divinity courses at the time of his arrest.


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