CONCORD, N.H. – A new graduate of a prestigious New Hampshire high school has been charged with sexually assaulting a freshman as part of a student tradition in which seniors try to have sex with younger students.
A police affidavit obtained by the Concord Monitor alleges 18-year-old Owen Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, sexually assaulted a 15-year-old on campus two days before he graduated from St. Paul’s School.
Police say Labrie denied having sex with the girl. Results are still pending from a state lab, but the affidavit says a nurse reported evidence of intercourse.
Labrie, who is due to attend Harvard in the fall, is set for arraignment Sept. 15 on three felony counts of sexual assault and one count of using a computer to lure the girl. A message seeking comment was left Saturday at a listed phone number for Labrie’s family.
The police affidavit said St. Paul’s counselor Sandra Whelan contacted Concord police after hearing from the girl’s mother.
“Whalen informed me that there is a horrible tradition at the boarding school called the ‘senior salute’ in which a senior emails a younger student regarding a ‘conquest’ before they graduate,” wrote Julie Curtin, a detective with the Concord police.
“When she accepted Owen Labrie’s ‘senior salute,’ her understanding was that it would be ‘just a hook up,’ which to her meant kissing or making out and ‘that’s all,”’ the affidavit said.
During their encounter, Labrie began to have sex with her, and when the girl realized what was happening, she said no twice and at pulled back in pain, the affidavit said.
“She stated she did not know that was going to happen and did not want that to happen,” the detective wrote. “I asked her if there was ever any conversation where she said yes and she said there was not.”
Mike Hirschfeld, rector of the 540-student St. Paul’s, wrote about Labrie’s arrest in a letter to parents this month.
“When this matter was first brought to our attention by the young woman involved, we reported it to the authorities, as is our obligation, and we are cooperating fully with law enforcement,” Hirschfeld wrote. “This situation has been alarming to me personally and to all adults here, in a community that values healthy relationships so highly.”