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State court to hear prep school graduate’s bid for new trial

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The state Supreme Court will hear an appeal for a new trial from a prep school graduate who was convicted in 2015 of sexually assaulting a classmate as part of a game of sexual conquest, an order released Thursday said.

Owen Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, is challenging a judge’s denial of his request for a new trial. His appeal will be argued before the full court, but a date hasn’t been set.

Labrie, 21, was acquitted of raping a 15-year-old classmate the previous year at St. Paul’s School in Concord. He was convicted of misdemeanor sexual assault and child endangerment as well as using a computer to lure the girl for sex, a felony requiring him to register as a sex offender for life.

Although sentenced to a year in jail, Labrie has remained free under curfew while he also appeals his convictions. That matter is on hold until the issue of whether he gets a new trial is resolved. A message seeking comment was left for his attorney Thursday.

In April, a judge denied him a new trial, calling some of Labrie’s claims of ineffective counsel absurd and almost frivolous. Labrie argued that his defense team erred in several ways, including not challenging the felony computer charge during the trial and not attempting to further damage the credibility of the girl and several of his friends who testified.

Labrie also argued he should not have been charged with or convicted of using a computer to lure the girl for sex because he exchanged messages with her through the school’s intranet, not the wider internet as the law specifies.

Earlier this year, the state attorney general’s office began an investigation of sexual assault and misconduct at St. Paul’s School. That followed the school’s release of a report detailing sexual assaults by teachers on their students, earlier information about student sexual conquest rituals and allegations of a similar ritual reported in June

School officials have said they’re cooperating with the investigation.


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