A former prep school student faced a lengthy rape trial this summer for an incident that took place just two days prior to his graduation in May of 2014. Owen Labrie, a 19 year old from Tunbridge, Vermont, was facing charges for allegedly raping a 15 year old girl as part of a longstanding tradition at the St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire. This tradition, coined as the “Senior Salute” encouraged senior male students at the prestigious prep school to compete in order to see who could have sex with the greatest number of underclassmen females prior to graduation. The entire trial unfolded as a he-said, she-said ordeal stemming from the Senior Salute invitation that Labrie extended to the alleged victim prior to the incident. Owen Labrie maintained that the two never engaged in sexual intercourse, but the unidentified victim has stated that she repeatedly told Owen “No” during various stages of their intimacy. Labrie was found not guilty of the felony rape charges he had been facing, but he is still currently awaiting sentencing on lesser sexual assault charges following the jury’s decision. They believed that Labrie had been lying and that the two did engage in sexual intercourse; an act that was illegal due to the girl’s age at the time of the encounter.
The spotlight surrounding the Labrie case has highlighted an issue that could possibly plague further prep schools in the future. Due to the nature of these schools, experts believe that students who receive their education at a boarding school may be at a greater risk to encounter sexual assaults. The children do not have legal guardians present during after-school hours—they experience a greater level of freedom than children who live at home while they are going to school. As one senior, Thomas Chou, from the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire has stated, “Our parents aren’t with us. We’re living in dorms.” This simple fact has caused a number of prep schools in the surrounding area to reevaluate the plans they have in place to prevent sexual assaults from occurring on their campuses. Continue reading