Owen Labrie, the St. Paul's School graduate accused of raping a younger student, was found not guilty of felony sexual assault on Friday. However, he was convicted of three counts of misdemeanor statutory sexual assault, one count of endangering a child, and one class B felony for using a computer to seduce a minor into having sex. Labrie's case revolved around a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old girl at his New Hampshire prep school when he was 18, and whether or not she consented to it. The jury concluded that Labrie and the girl had consensual sex, but found him guilty of sexual assault, due to her age. Although he wasn't convicted of rape, 19-year-old Labrie still faces harsh punishments for the less severe crimes he was found guilty of, including possible prison time and having to register as a sex convicted offender.
Because the age difference between Labrie and the girl was less than four years, the sexual assault charges he was convicted of were not classified as felonies, as they would be in cases of larger age disparities. Labrie's most serious conviction was using a computer to lure a minor, which could send him to prison for up to seven years. Additionally, each of his misdemeanor charges could add a year to his sentence, so the teenager could face a maximum of 11 years behind bars when he's sentenced on October 29.
Labrie will likely be required to register as a sex offender because of his felony charge for using a computer to seduce a minor. If he does have to register, then his name, along with a photo or physical description, will appear on New Hampshire's online sexual offender registry for at least 10 years. Labrie's lawyer, J.W. Carney, doesn't believe that the computer-related crime was intended for people like Labrie, but rather for perpetrators disguising their age online to lure children. Carney said after the conviction hearing: "I believe that this computer statute was never intended for kids getting together consensually at the high school they both attend. It's overreaching."
Labrie's former school also punished him. In a statement to the St. Paul community, school board president James Waterbury and rector Michael Hirschfeld said that Labrie was banned from the school, and his rector's award was repealed.
Labrie was released on a $15,000 bail until his October court date, despite pleas from prosecutor Catherine Ruffle for a higher bail, for fear that Labrie could flee after being convicted. In the meantime, he must turn over his passport to authorities and follow a 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. curfew every day.
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