The prep school rape case that has been making headlines these last few days now reveals a racy school tradition that might hint to a different side of the influential St. Paul School in New Hampshire.
19-year-old Owen Labrie is accused of raping a 15-year-old schoolmate and the case has caught the attention of the entire nation. However, it seems that it is going to be extremely difficult for the jury to reach a conclusion that will state whether or not Labrie raped the girl beyond reasonable doubt, because the psychological implications of the case go beyond what hard evidence can suggest and reach the point of questioning the ethical implications of rape.
The name, voice and appearance of the girl has not been made public precisely because of the stigma associated with this type of accusation. She has testified today and she has tried to tell the jurors her side of the story as best as she could.
She displayed a very emotional reaction when she was asked to identify Owen Labrie, and she couldn’t hold her tears in.
Her testimony revealed that St. Paul has a long standing tradition, commonly known among students as the “Senior Salute” that is basically a competition between male seniors, whose winner is the one who succeeds in taking the virginity of the most freshmen girls, among other non-sexual point-worthy practices.
It seems that Owen Labrie was very much in the game, as he allegedly email the girl and mentioned that he wanted to see her. She said that she did not believe that the “Senior Salute” actually had sexual implications, and so she eventually met up with Labrie, who took her to an empty room in the Science building of the school.
It was there where she says that the rape took place, in spite of her efforts to stop the act. She said that she was unable to verbalize her disapproval to the act, as “I felt like I was frozen”.
In spite of the girl’s story and medical evidence that suggests that sexual contact did in fact take place, Owen Labrie legal representation is clearly pointing out that the act did not actually happen, thus the young man has pleaded guilty to the charges of sexual assault.
Furthermore, the defense is presenting an entirely different story, as they have shown in court e-mails that the two have exchanged, both prior and after the alleged rape took place, that would suggest that the meeting was consensual, that there was even a discussion about condoms and that the messages that followed after the meeting in the Science building are not consistent with the reaction of a woman who has been sexually assaulted.
This is actually where the case becomes particularly complicated, because it is extremely difficult to reach a solid conclusion regrading the happenings in this case.
It is of the utmost importance that a psychologist is put on the stand in order to offer a professional opinion about the girl’s reaction, that is actually extremely common among rape victims, especially of such young ages.
There are numerous factors to be taken into consideration, such as the difference in authority between a freshmen girl and a senior boy, and the sacrifices that young students are forced to make in order to maintain an acceptable social appearance among schoolmates.
It remains to be seen what Owen Labrie’s testimony will reveal, but at this point the case could go either way, as the information presented is extremely difficult to interpret correctly.
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