CONCORD, N.H. -- A former student at an exclusive New Hampshire prep school who was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old classmate was sentenced to one year in jail on Thursday. He will also be required to register as a sex offender for life.
Owen Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, was convicted in August of misdemeanor sexual assault plus a felony count of using a computer to lure the girl to a sexual encounter. His trial exposed an alleged practice of sexual conquest at Concord, New Hampshire's St. Paul's School known as Senior Salute, in which graduating students try to have sex with underclassmen.
On Thursday, prosecutors asked for a sentence of 3½ to 7 years for the computer offense and said they would agree to a suspended sentence on the other charges if Labrie completed a sex offender program.
Lawyers for Labrie, who was 18 years old at the time of the assault and is now 20, want to keep him off the sex offender list, and have argued it's too harsh of a penalty.
Judge Larry Smukler told Labrie bluntly that he did not believe the sex was consensual.
"A child such as the victim is not sufficiently mature to handle a sexual situation with an older person such as yourself. That's the crime you were convicted of," Smukler said.
In a memorandum filed just before Labrie was to be sentenced Thursday, prosecutors included numerous references to messages Labrie sent to classmates that they say illustrate his "callous disrespect for young women."
Prosecutors said during the trial that Labrie and other students were taking part in the "Senior Salute." In their memo, prosecutors said that Labrie and his friends were trying to break the "slaying records" in the spring, a phrase they said is slang for sexual intercourse.
They allege the group ritualized the game of Senior Salute, and "relished the tradition," which they say included a papier-mâché "Slaying Mask," templates for Senior Salute invitations, and maintaining a practice of rubbing the engraved name of the graduate "Slaymaker."
According to prosecutors, Labrie said in messages that his "style" was to "feign intimacy - then stab them in the back - THROW EM IN A DUMPSTER - I lie in bed with them - and pretend like I'm in love."
They also allege that Labrie had been involved with the victim's sister and in part targeted the victim because he "wanted the elevated status of 'slaying sisters.'" Labrie showed outrage when he was turned down in his sexual conquests and showed "a complete disregard for the legal age of consent," prosecutors say.
Prosecutors allege the messages demonstrate "calculated, strategic" behavior towards other young women prior to the assault.
In documents filed Wednesday, defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr. used letters from Labrie's parents and classmates in a plea for the judge to sentence Labrie to probation instead of prison. He said Labrie already has been punished, having been shunned by his alma mater and losing a full scholarship to Harvard, dashing his dream to attend the college's divinity school.
His mother, Denise Holland, wrote in a letter to Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler that her son "has been punished beyond a degree that anyone else could possibly understand, but I see it in the fear and sadness in once-bright and joyful eyes."
Dr. Edmund Piper, a clinical psychologist who has been treating Labrie for 13 months, called him "remarkable" and "mature beyond his years intellectually and responsibility-wise."
A former female classmate called him "the kindest, most brilliant and most authentic friend I have," adding that his conviction has not changed her opinion.
Prosecutors rejected Labrie's contention that he's been punished enough by Harvard's decision to rescind his admission and full scholarship.
The victim did not appear in court Thursday, CBS Boston reported via Twitter. But a recording of her impact statement was played in court.
"What he did to me made me feel like I didn't belong in this planet," the girl said, according to CBS Boston.
The girl reportedly said she felt scared in school, was taunted by fellow students and described a lack of compassion at St. Paul's. "No one understood," she said, according to the station.
Besides the felony, Labrie also was convicted in August of three counts of misdemeanor sexual assault and one count of child endangerment.
At his August trial, Labrie denied having intercourse with the girl, telling police that they partially disrobed, kissed and touched. He also acknowledged putting on a condom. Labrie said the freshman girl was eager to have sex, but the aspiring divinity student said he had a "moment of self-restraint" and stopped.
Labrie did testify that he bragged to friends that the two did have sex.
In graphic and sometimes tearful testimony at the trial, the girl, now 16, said she willingly went with Labrie to the rooftop of an academic building after he invited her to take part in Senior Salute, a tradition she said she knew about. But she said she was prepared for kissing at most.
The jury essentially signaled through its verdicts that it didn't believe Labrie's assertion that there was no intercourse, but it also didn't believe the victim's contention that it was against her will. For that, it found Labrie guilty of statutory rape, because she was underage and could not legally consent to sex.