- Associated Press - Friday, August 28, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Jurors will resume weighing the credibility of two teens and other evidence in a case in which prosecutors say an 18-year-old senior raped a freshman as part of a culture of sexual conquest at an elite New Hampshire prep school.

Owen Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vt., faces nine charges, including three felony sex assault charges that carry sentences of 10 to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors say he raped the 15-year-old just days before he graduated last year, in a practice known as Senior Salute.

Mr. Labrie, now 19, testified the two had consensual sexual contact that stopped short of intercourse.

In their final arguments Thursday, lawyers on both sides criticized Concord’s St. Paul’s School, and offered different interpretations of email and Facebook messages the teens exchanged after the encounter in a campus building’s dark and noisy mechanical room on May 30, 2014 — two days before Mr. Labrie graduated.

He was bound for Harvard on a full scholarship and planned to take divinity school classes but testified his plans are on hold.

His accuser testified she fought to keep Mr. Labrie from removing her underwear during the encounter. She said she told Mr. Labrie “no” three times.

She testified she was “frozen” as she felt the pressure of him penetrating her and blamed herself for not doing more to try to kick and push him off.

Prosecutor Joseph Cherniske said the girl, now 16, didn’t report the rape for several days because she didn’t want to disrupt her sister’s graduation and because she “thought she could handle it all.”

“She thought she could handle going with an 18-year-old boy for a Senior Salute,” Mr. Cherniske said. “She thought she could say no by holding onto her clothing and saying no and make it stop.”

Mr. Labrie testified the two never had sex but acknowledged he bragged to friends that he had.

Mr. Labrie’s lawyer, J.W. Carney, told the jury the girl testified she had no recollection of her conversation with her best friend before meeting Mr. Labrie. That is because admitting she stated graphically what conduct she was prepared to engage in with him “would destroy the whole image she’d been trying to create.”

“If you conclude she was not being truthful, then I submit it taints her entire testimony,” Mr. Carney said. “In order to put forward this story, she was willing to tell a lie about a critical fact right in front of you.”

The jury of nine men and three women deliberated more than three hours on Thursday. They are returning to court Friday morning.

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