- Associated Press - Friday, September 18, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Lawyers for a New Hampshire prep school graduate convicted of having sexual contact with a 15-year-old student asked a judge Friday to either dismiss a felony conviction for using a computer to invite the girl to their encounter or keep him off a list of registered sex offenders.

Owen Labrie, 19, of Tunbridge, Vermont, was convicted last month after a trial full of lurid details that exposed a practice at the elite St. Paul’s School known as Senior Salute, in which graduating students try to have sex with younger classmates.

In their motion, defense lawyers said the computer crime should be dismissed because Labrie was acquitted of felony sex assault charges. They also said legislators didn’t intend the law to apply to encounters between two teenagers who already knew each other but rather to adults preying on children.

Labrie, who was 18 when he met with the girl in June 2014, could receive a state prison sentence of up to seven years on the computer charge and could also have to register as a sex offender.

“If he had merely called the 15-year-old on the telephone or spoken to her in person, there would be no additional crime,” the lawyers wrote. “Yet because he prearranged the encounter through email and Facebook, he will be subjected to the scrutiny and humiliation of sex offender registration for the rest of his life.”

The lawyers said that amounts to a violation of the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

Labrie, who had no criminal record, would be able to petition the court to be removed from the list 15 years after the end of his sentence. He also was convicted of misdemeanor sexual assault and child endangerment charges; those would put him on the list for at least 10 years.

He could face probation or up to 11 years in prison when he’s sentenced in October.

After the trial, Labrie’s lawyer J.W. Carney said the convictions “forever changed” his life and will be like “a brand, a tattoo” that will follow him.

Prosecutor Catherine Ruffle said her office would file a response with the court. She declined to comment further.

Labrie had been accepted to Harvard University and planned to take divinity courses. He testified that he and the girl had consensual sexual contact after he invited her to participate in Senior Salute, but he denied having sex with her. The girl acknowledged going willingly with Labrie to an academic building on the Concord campus two days before graduation last year but said she was unprepared when he became aggressive.

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