CONCORD, N.H. – A New Hampshire prep school denies it could have prevented the alleged sexual assault of a 15-year-old student who said she was raped by a senior during a game of sexual conquest in 2014.
St. Paul's School in Concord responded Monday to a federal complaint filed in June by the girl's parents, who said the school failed to protect the children entrusted to its care. The senior, Owen Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, was convicted last year of misdemeanor sex assault charges and a felony charge of using a computer to lure an underage student for sex. He was cleared of rape.
The school said it "lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief" as to whether the girl was sexually assaulted by Labrie.
It added that it believes the term "Senior Salute" describes "a wide range of behaviors related to students spending time with other students and means a variety of different things to different people and that there is no uniform or singular definition of a 'Senior Salute.'"
The lawsuit, which alleges negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress, also accuses the school of failing to support the girl. It describes how she was "shunned, ignored and outright mocked" by the school community. It seeks unspecified damages.
The school said the complaint "fails to state a cause of action or claim upon which relief can be granted" and asks a judge to dismiss it.
During Labrie's trial, he testified that he and the girl had consensual sexual contact, but he denied having sexual intercourse with her. He acknowledged he had boasted to the contrary to friends, in profane emails and social media posts that were shared with the jury.
The encounter between Labrie and the girl took place in a nearly deserted building whose roof had a panoramic view of the school's 2,000-acre campus. After a brief time on the roof, the girl testified, Labrie led her to a dark mechanical room, they consensually kissed and touched each other and he raped her.