Wednesday, August 26, 2015

St. Paul's Prep School Rape Case



You may have heard about this case, maybe not. But a graduating senior is charged with raping a graduating freshman. He was 18 at the time, she was 15. And I'm definitely for letting justice take its course. I'm in the camp where I don't think those accused of rape should have their names published unless convicted. Also, I understand that no one looks at their best in a mug shot (if that is Labrie's mugshot; it might be a student ID, I don't know). Still, I can't help but wonder, what machinations were required to transform someone even vaguely resembling the individual above ...



into this. I hope by trial's end we won't see an example of the best justice money can buy -- that the defense doesn't score a touchdown with a Hail Mary pass based on nothing more substantial than a Harry Potter makeover.

50 comments:

  1. I don't quite understand this case. I think he's arguing that the sex was consensual, but because she was 15, that makes him guilty.

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  2. I haven't read anything but the headlines. I do always wonder about the makeover of the accused. Isn't the evidence what matters?

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    1. Agreed. And I can see putting the accused in a conservative suit and combing the hair, etc. But a makeover? The second photo doesn't even look like a distant cousin of the first.

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  3. There are transcripts of the trial out there, Earl, if you're interested. What disturbs me, is that if you see earlier pictures of the guy, he looks like the athlete he was. On trial, they've now made him look like someone who would be scared to knock on the door of the chess club.

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  4. That's the way law is practiced these days. Posturing and imagery. As you know, they have jury experts, and they have focus groups to see which tactics work best. Presenting the defendant and he plaintiff is like staging a house. And then there are the outrageous things that the attorneys write in court documents, hoping that something sticks in the judge's mind.

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  5. It would be interesting to know whether the guy wears glasses at all. And it looks like makeup may have been involved.

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  6. A definite attempt to make him look as young as his accuser. Big ears, nerd forehead, no trace of the surfer-dude. Wonder if the jury can ask whether those are prescription lenses, and if he dyed his hair. And when was the last time he wore a bowl cut, which I would guess was never.

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  7. Big news here, because it's next door in NH. Had to chuckle. There is a 'harry potterish' look to the chap. I want a photo of the 15 year old Hermione though. Fair is fair.

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  8. Lawyers and the process they go (put) through is amazing.. They're like directors for a movie... appearances are everything when they're putting their case on trial.. They have to play the jury their way... (believe me, when I was involved in a case, I learned a lot about their process and timing)

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  9. Seems to me, if they found a full physical transformation necessary, there must be some pretty compelling evidence against him.

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    1. I agree w/you, Sherlock..its all about presentation.,. Jury is all visual-- not all lies on evidence.

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  10. I think there is compelling evidence against him, but "staging" is used in all cases because, especially in criminal cases, you don't want to take any chances.

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    1. You're the expert in this. My main point was, I can see how and why the defense would want to make the accused look at his or her best. Of course. But to look entirely different, unrelated to the former self?

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    2. If the former self is accused of a heinous crime, the further away you can get, like making him seem a wholly different person, the better. By the way, your suggestion that the accused have his/her name withheld just like that of the victim, is a good one. A person's life can be ruined by false accusations, just as a victim can be damaged. Stories abound. In an ideal world, investigations would be professional, thorough and sensitive. Can anyone out there direct me to an ideal world?

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    3. Yeah, it is not fair that one side should be protected from public scrutiny and the other not. Both should be protected, equally.

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  11. Anything that works. I don't recall for sure, but I think they put Cayce Anthony in glasses and for sure Jody Arias. I wonder if they thought of using Graucho glasses. By the way, the jury began deliberating today.

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    1. "Anything that works." And that's our justice system today? Sadly, I suppose you're right.

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    2. Mr. Earl is right, they did put Cayce Anthony in glasses as well as Jody Arias.. maybe to give a less attractive look? more conservative? "Anything that works".. that sums it up well..
      Sidebar: I remember in my case, at one mediation, they wanted more emotion out of me- they said, I didn't portray the grieving, poor, widow.... preconceived profiles seem to rule ..

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  12. If this is the case I'm thinking of, he confessed. And there is some sort of hazing thing at the school where graduating boys are supposed to have sex with a freshman in order to be cool. Is that the same case?

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  13. Couldn't get my comment to post. Damn.

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  14. Here it is again.....looks like the same face to me. Take it from a portraitist. Look at the length of the nose. Look at the mouth, the eyebrows. Look at the distance between the pupils of his eyes. Same face. - Shanna, the portraitist

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    1. It is the same face, they just changed his look, so he looks like a member of the chess club, as Karin suggested, rather than a player.

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  15. I agree with you, Karin. "Anything that works, " is terrible, but it's the way law is practiced in the US. It's why some of us can't be defense attorneys - because we don't want to participate in blatant manipulations. As a government attorney, most of my time was spent poking holes in the attempts to manipulate and distort.

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  16. Supposedly, this guy is a Harvard "divinity" student. Whatever that might mean.

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  17. Mixed verdict now coming in: Aggravated sexual assault: not guilty. Convicted of misdemeanor sexual assault, where consent was irrelevant, and a second-degree sexual assault, which is a felony involving jail time. Looks like the jury had doubts about whether she consented or not.

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    1. What does second-degree sexual assault mean?

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    2. http://sapac.umich.edu/article/189

      "Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

      Sexual Contact (intentional touching of intimate parts or clothing covering intimate parts, for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification) and
      Any of the circumstances listed for 1st degree CSC".....(para phrasing article)

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  18. The second-degree felony in this case was "using a computer to solicit unlawful sexual activity" or something like that. This means that he will be labeled a sex offender for the rest of his life. They're saying that he'll probably get at least 3 1/2 years.

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  19. Here's the exact wording of that felony, "using a computer to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child under the age of 16."

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  20. His appearance aside, the other thing interesting is how this case seemed to depend almost entirely on social media exchanges -- what was said before and after and to whom.

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  21. If you're on Twitter, Owen Labrie and the "nerd defense" just started trending.

    Mr. Earl, your legal perspective is enlightening.

    I wonder, if there is such a cult of rape, or whatever you want to call it, why is he the only one taking the fall? Not that he shouldn't fall, but I'd like to see a few others go down with him.

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  22. Very few rape accusations make it to trial.

    And the results today indicate why. Because, really, the more I think and read about this particular case, how could it have resulted in mostly misdemeanors?
    1. She was fifteen, he was of age
    2. She refused his first invitation to that evening, given the event's reputation
    3. She accepted after a male friend of her age assured her she would be safe
    4. Did I say she was fifteen?
    5. But this male friend of hers had asked Labrie earlier, via email, who was the girl he most wanted to, the word in the email, "pork"
    6. Labrie said this girl. She was at the top of the list. He had a list.
    7. Labrie had a key to an off-bounds place and took the girl there
    8. Labrie messaged a friend after the fact. He had sex with this girl, but only after trying, "every trick in the book."
    9. She was fifteen

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  23. He's going to be a convicted felon and a registered sex offender the rest of his life. I do take issue with the latter. Under our crazy system of laws, someone who has consensual sex with an underage girl (perhaps 17) gets the same life-long label as someone who molests 6-year-old boys over a period of many years. Not right.

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  24. I have no tolerance for rapists. The sentence is never harsh enough. If I were in charge these guys would pay in physical ways, plus major jail time.

    Some would say jail time makes them into hardened criminals. I say this guy and his like are already criminals. Lock them up.

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  25. What I think is a little unfair is the computer charge. Clearly, the purpose of that law is to catch people who find young kids to molest via the internet. The purpose of the law is not to charge kids who used cell phones and emails to connect with people they know.

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    1. No, I think this charge was spot on. He was using the internet as a predator.

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  26. Sorry, Karin, I think my comment went to your email.

    What I added was that I think rapists should suffer emotionally, or at least pay for the years of therapy their victims will need.

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  27. The difference between what we're capable of processing when we're 15 versus 18, male or female, is exponential. That's why we have a law protecting the underaged. Apparently, that law is negotiable.

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  28. Negotiable in what way? This guy was convicted precisely because she was 15.

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  29. Negotiable in that this was found to be sorta, kinda, but not entirely wrong. We either as a society agree on rules, or we don't.

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  30. The part that was "not entirely wrong" was that the evidence was not clear to the jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he had sex with her against her will. The part that was not negotiable was that he had sex with her when she was 15. It was "all wrong" if he did what she said he did, but the jury wasn't 100% convinced because there were facts that didn't completely support her testimony.

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  31. Well, for sure, the jury has the last word. And I think they had a difficult job. Still. maybe it doesn't matter that she was a freshman and he was a senior. Maybe it doesn't matter that she initially rejected his evening invitation. Maybe it doesn't matter that a friend she trusted encouraged her to accept. Maybe it doesn't matter that the guy had a key to an off-site place, and wore a condom. And maybe it doesn't matter that he later bragged about what happened. "Score," I think one of his friends quoted him as saying, and that's the polite version. This all happened to a 15- year old, living away from home, in a boarding school.

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  32. Maybe the jury found the guy in the first photo "guilty" and the guy in the second photo "not guilty," leading to the split verdict. :-)

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  33. You know, boarding school is such a sad concept in any case -- like an orphanage with an expense account. Both drop kids into Lord of the Flies territory.

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    1. "like an orphanage with an expense account." Classic.

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  34. I haven't read anything about this case... Sorry, for don't comment.

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  35. But what about the guy in West Virginia who got drunk, and dug up his dead dad so he could have the last word?

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  36. I don't know what to say. But I have been following this case with interest.

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