In an attempt to reinstate bail for 21-year-old sex offender Owen Labrie, his attorneys presented a letter from an unnamed professor who compares Labrie to 15th century canonized military heroine Joan of Arc. Wow, so creative!
According to Boston.com, Labrie’s lawyers argue that “just because [he] repeatedly violated his court-ordered curfew doesn’t mean he should have had his bail on statutory rape charges revoked in March.”
Defense attorney Jaye Rancourt supports this claim with “a lengthy letter from a professor Labrie was studying with in which the professor talks about the ‘extreme affliction’ God has put the now-21-year-old through, and compares his future to that of Joan of Arc.”
Via Boston.com, here are some excerpts from the professor’s letter, addressing Labrie’s legal troubles and God’s perception of them:
“‘So, Owen, here you are now, twenty years old and having been put through (because of the extraordinary and generous providence of God) extreme affliction and malheur,’ the professor wrote. ‘And this is why you must continuously seek to understand why God has done this to you, and ask what His judgement is upon your past thoughts and behavior and His intentions for your future vocation.’
‘It’s amazing to me how much God loves you—because God doesn’t usually bother to wizen up ordinary kids who get involved in teen-age sex play. He just lets them gradually outgrow it,’ the professor wrote. ‘But, obviously, God intends something more from you than a ‘staged normal life.’ God intends that you (like Joan of Arc and Simone Weil) take on a higher task. So God has afflicted you with the enormous suffering that you have had to bear (and that you will always have to bear). This suffering is your condemnation (better, your consecration!) to a higher calling.’ [Emphasis included by the professor.]”
The letter bewilders on a number of fronts, but perhaps what is most disturbing is the reference to Labrie as an “ordinary [kid] who [got] involved in teen-age sex play.” Labrie was charged with the sexual assault of a 15-year-old classmate, allegedly drawing her into a vacant room on school grounds and having sex with her there. The crime was committed in the spirit of the “senior salute” at St. Paul’s School, where the boys compete to seduce and wheedle sexual favors out of as many female students as possible. Brushing off symptoms of rape culture as childish tomfoolery is disturbing to say the least.
Labrie’s contact with this professor seems to be at least partially inspired by his interest in French philosopher and political activist Simone Weil. The professor “urged to to write a 150,000 to 200,000-word masters thesis on her life and thought, which could then be published as a scholarly book. The thesis would be used to help Labrie gain entry to a PhD program at Oxford, according to the letter.”
But Labrie has a few matters to clear up before he can turn his attention to the ivory tower or, perhaps, to studying the deeds of his new mentor, Saint Joan. Having violated the terms of his bail a number of times, Labrie’s attorneys must convince the judge that he will abide by future conditions — and that his previous probation was unusually harsh:
“‘ While Mr. Labrie admittedly violated conditions of his bail by traveling outside the timeframe of his curfew on three occasions, the record does not support a finding that he is unlikely to abide by any condition or combination of conditions of release,’ his attorneys wrote in the brief arguing for the bail to be reinstated.
Labrie’s attorneys also argued that his bail was more restrictive than others in Merrimack County. It ‘had set Mr. Labrie up for failure’ with the 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. curfew, they wrote.”
A curfew? Geez, this kid is really riding the struggle bus. I bet Joan of Arc could relate deeply, don’t you?
Image via AP.