On Friday, August 28, 2015, a New Hampshire jury convicted Owen Labrie of five Sex Crime counts – including one felony — in connection with the sexual assault of another student at a prestigious boarding school, but acquitted him of the more serious aggravated sex assault charges.
During the announcement of the verdict, I was at Fox News HQ in New York and appeared on The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson (@GretchenCarlson) with my colleague Thomas Kenniff (@tomkenniff) to comment on the verdict as it was announced. My law partner, Robert Bianchi, was also live on national TV on the MSNBC network to comment on the verdict as well.
To start, Owen Labrie was charged with a 9 count indictment that included three aggravated sexual assault felony charges, a felony computer crimes charge, a misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child, and three misdemeanor sexual assault charges. The indictment can be viewed here on the New Hampshire courts website.
At trial, the Government alleged that the 19-year-old Labrie had sexual relations with a 15-year-old girl without her consent. Additionally, the Government also argued that even if the victim consented to the sexual relations, Labrie would still be guilty of the misdemeanor sexual assault (statutory rape) based on the age discrepancy of the two individuals.
There were three real issues that the jury had to decide at trial. First, whether the sexual relations actually took place. Next, if the jury found that the sexual relations occurred, whether it was done without the consent of the alleged victim. Finally, if the jury found that the sexual relations occurred, whether the defendant used facebook and/or his email to entice the alleged victim in order to commit the sexual assault.
In the end, the jury did not appear to believe the former prep school student’s claim that there was no intercourse, but it also dismissed his accuser’s testimony that it was against her will. Accordingly, Labrie was convicted of three misdemeanor sexual assault charges based on the age discrepancy of the parties (statutory rape), the misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child, and the felony computer crime charge.
As discussed in the appearance, the felony computer crime charge is the most serious of convictions which can carry the possibility of 7 years in state prison. Each of the misdemeanor convictions carries the possibility of the 1 year in prison. In the end, I don’t believe that Labrie will be sentenced to jail, but that will be within the discretion of the judge. The convictions will also require the defendant to register as a sex offender based on the computer crime and endangering conviction. In the appearance, I mistakenly stated that the registration is not applicable.