In 2015, Owen Labrie was convicted of misdemeanor sexual assault and child endangerment after raping a 15-year-old girl during a St. Paul’s School tradition called the “Senior Salute,” in which senior boys pressured younger girls for sex. He was sentenced to a year in jail, but remained largely free as he sought to overturn his conviction and go through a new trial.
The Associated Press reports that Labrie’s attempts were denied by a Merrimack County Superior Court judge on Wednesday. Labrie’s request was based on the claim that he had poor legal counsel, saying they failed to combat the felony computer charge in trial (Labrie lured his victim via email, another crime), and that they should have gone further in damaging the credibility of the girl and several of his friends who testified against him.
The computer charges are a particular sticking point for Labrie, as they will force him to register as a sex offender for life. In his request for a new trial, he says that the messages sent to the victim passed through the school’s intranet, not the wider internet, and thus did not violate the law. The judge disagreed:
“The court finds and rules that the defendant’s trial team was comprised of highly experienced and prepared defense attorneys, who, overall, made reasonable strategic and tactical decisions throughout the trial,” Judge Larry Smukler wrote in his ruling.
He said one of Labrie’s claims “borders on frivolity” and remarked on the “absurdity” of another.
Robin Melone, Labrie’s current defense attorney, has stated that she disagrees with Judge Smukler’s decision and that they plan to continue with further appeals.