(CONCORD, N.H.) — Defendant Owen Labrie, who is accused of raping another student at a prestigious New Hampshire prep school, took the witness stand in court Wednesday, describing how he and the alleged victim had flirted in the year leading up to the incident at the heart of the case.
Labrie, now 19, is accused of raping a student in May 2014 at St. Paul’s School, in Concord, New Hampshire.
“We’d make it a point to say ‘Hi’ or a wink or a nod or something silly, so it was nice, and because of that, all of my friends knew of my affection for [the victim] and I think all of her friends knew of hers for me,” Labrie said during his testimony Wednesday morning.
He went on to describe how they would regularly talk when out socially and dance at parties together on occasion.
The student who accused Labrie, whose name is being withheld because of the nature of the crime, appeared on the stand last week, offering emotional testimony about the events.
“I was raped!” she said loudly amid tears. “I was violated in so many ways.”
Prosecutor Catherine Ruffle said in court last week that the encounter was part of a “senior salute,” a tradition at the prep school. Ruffle said that the “senior salute” practice was largely intended as a way for graduating seniors “to be with someone that they might have wanted to be with throughout” high school, and could include activities like walking to class together or kissing but “it might include a little bit more.”
She then said that some students believed Labrie and some of his friends had turned the tradition into a competition.
Labrie is charged with multiple felonies relating to the encounter. He has entered a not-guilty plea.
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