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Owen Labrie’s Lawyers: ‘When You’re Innocent, You’re Innocent’

BOSTON (CBS) — On “CBS This Morning” Tuesday, lawyers for Owen Labrie responded to an interview given by the teen who accused Labrie of raping her at an elite New Hampshire prep school in 2014.

In that interview, Chessy Prout revealed her identity for the first time and spoke about her life since the trial, including her “disgust” that Labrie was convicted of misdemeanor sexual assault, but not rape, for his actions as part of a game of sexual conquest called Senior Salute.

But Labrie’s lawyers, Jaye Rancourt and Robin Malone, refuted many of Prout’s statements in the segment Tuesday.

“We were troubled that the statements she made went unchallenged,” said Rancourt. “We were troubled that, when she’s interviewed and she makes statements purporting to know what the jury was thinking, that that statement goes unchallenged in the media, and that then it’s picked up that he’s a rapist, that he’s a predator, that he’s this horrible person, when the facts are that he was found innocent of that conduct. And when you’re innocent, you’re innocent, bottom line.”

Owen Labrie. (Courtesy: Merrimack County Sheriff's Office)

Owen Labrie. (Courtesy: Merrimack County Sheriff’s Office)

They also said that they did not believe there was ever a plea deal focused on a letter of apology from Labrie, as Prout suggested in her interview.

“To the best of our knowledge, that was never offered as a plea bargain,” said Rancourt. “Just offer an apology and the charges would go away? That was never offered.”

Last week, Prout told NBC that the jury in the rape trial “said that they didn’t believe that he did it knowingly, and that frustrated me a lot, because he definitely did do it knowingly.”

But Rancourt and Malone said that’s not what the jury found. They said the jury found him not guilty of rape, and that the misdemeanor sexual assault charge he was convicted of was due only to her age.

“Her age alone rendered it non-consensual,” said Rancourt. “If they found it to be non-consensual based upon actions or words or otherwise, it would have been aggravated, which is what they found him innocent of.”

But she also reiterated that Labrie denies the two ever had sex.

“He maintained his innocence all along, that they did not have sex,” she said. “There was kissing, and rubbing, and there was certainly contact, intimate contact, but not sexual intercourse, and that was his testimony.”

St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. (Image credit: CBS News)

St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire. (Image credit: CBS News)

During the trial, students admitted there was a list of girls’ names–with Chessy Prout’s name in capital letters–made as part of the “senior salute” tradition. The state said it was a list of girls the boys wanted to have sex with, but Labrie’s lawyers disagree.

“The boys all testified about the quote-unquote list, that was just a list of girls that they wanted to get to know better,” said Rancourt. “That was the testimony of all the boys, not just Owen.”

Malone and Rancourt are currently appealing for a new trial, claiming that the felony computer charge for soliciting Prout via text–the one for which Labrie had to register as a sex offender–was not challenged effectively by Labrie’s previous lawyer. They said there is also a stayed appeal in New Hampshire court.

Prout said last week that she hopes Labrie learned from his actions and gets help.

“I certainly think he’s learned from this ordeal,” said Rancourt. “He went to an encounter with this girl who was 15, and I think if he could do it over again, he wouldn’t go to this encounter with her.”

As for whether or not Labrie admits to any wrongdoing, Malone says, “I think the testimony is what the testimony is at this point. This is not a done deal.”

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports

Comments

One Comment

  1. Karen F says:

    Juries don’t find people “innocent.” They find them not guilty. It’s not the same thing and if his lawyer does not know this, she needs to go back to law school. The difference is meaningful. A verdict of “not guilty” means that the evidence presented did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime as that crime is defined in the penal code. If found “not guilty,” the defendant is presumed innocent. The jury did not find him innocent nor was he “proven innocent.” The lawyer’s statements on this morning’s news broadcast were misleading and she should be called out on it.

  2. sceesic says:

    Just another lawyer’s trick.

  3. Hal Jacobs PGA says:

    Typical lawyer mumbo-jumbo. The ability to twist words to their favor is their specialty.

  4. BEVERLY LADNER says:

    It was regret.Five days later and people talking it turned to rape.

  5. Antel Lopez says:

    Juries do find people “innocent” of charges. You are trying a lawyer’s trick right here Karen F! By your logic, All accused are never found innocent, only “not guilty”. Therefore, once accused, forever tainted, right Karen? haha. It rankles many that Mr. Labrie wasn’t castrated and raped in jail. However, as his lawyers said, he was not found guilty of rape or aggravated assault, and the physicality was consensual — it was simply her age that made it a crime. His felony charge resulted from a twisting of the law by the prosecution — a law made to capture sexual adult predators luring small children via the internet — not two teenagers chatting on Facebook. He will be acquitted of that charge on appeal if his lawyers have even mediocre skills.

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