CONCORD, N.H. – The teenager who says she was raped last year by a senior at the elite St. Paul's School in New Hampshire will return to the witness stand to testify about events surrounding the alleged assault.
The accuser, who was 15 at the time, said she initially declined an invitation by then 18-year-old Owen Labrie of Tunbridge, Vermont, to Senior Salute — the practice of seniors boys making sexual conquests of younger students before they graduate.
She said she was familiar with the tradition, but testified she didn't think at the time it involved any "special expectations."
Defense attorney J.W. Carney told jurors Tuesday that emails between the two suggest the girl was a willing participant.
Carney, who minimized the Senior Salute element, read to jurors from a string of emails between the two before and immediately after they got together the night of May 30, 2014 — two days before Labrie graduated. In them, the freshman agreed to meet Labrie "only if it's our little secret."
Prosecutor Catherine Ruffle described Senior Salute as "the context for this entire event."
On the witness stand Tuesday, the accuser broke down crying and pointed at Labrie when asked if he was in the courtroom. The petite student, her ash blonde hair pulled back from her forehead, told jurors the two were not friends and that he was a classmate of her older sister.
Prosecutors say she unsuccessfully resisted Labrie and told him "no" but was overpowered.
The teen said she initially declined Labrie's invitation to Senior Salute. "I thought his intentions were really wrong," she testified, but relented when a friend persuaded her that Labrie was sincere in trying to pay some attention to her.
The rape investigation began several days after the encounter, and Labrie was arrested in July 2014. He has pleaded not guilty and maintains there was no intercourse.
"She's going to testify the defendant became very aggressive, very fast," Ruffle told jurors. "He pulled her bra down, he bit her breast and it was painful."
Carney said after court Tuesday that he is looking forward to his chance to question the accuser.
Testimony in the case resumes on Wednesday.