Another campus sexual assault case is back in the news again, but this time it’s a prep school case where the perpetrator has already been convicted of lesser offenses than his original charges, and sentenced to one year of jail time. Owen Labrie’s fate has been decided in the “Senior Salute” rape case at St. Paul’s Prep School, but now the victim and her parents are suing the school for not doing more to stop the practice of seniors preying on underclass girls to accumulate as many conquests as possible. St. Paul’s is fighting back, but their method of fighting the lawsuit is a rather unconventional one. The school wants to force the girl, who was only 15 at the time, to reveal her identity, in the name of being “open and transparent,” according to AOL News.
With media reports of the story, St. Paul’s is now saying that they are only trying to stop the girl and her parents from making statements to the press until the matter is settled. Archibald Cox, Jr., the president of the school’s Board of Trustees, posted a letter on the school’s website clarifying that people are taking the request in a different light than what was intended.
“[We do] not oppose the family’s use of pseudonyms, and certainly did not request that the young woman’s name be made public… Rather, we agreed to the family’s use of pseudonyms during pretrial phases of the litigation, provided they agreed to stop improperly attacking the School’s character in statements to the press.”
However, the motion filed by St. Paul’s also requests that the victim use her real name during the trial phase, which was not addressed in the letter posted on the website. The girl is now 17, and still a minor. These are the requests made by the school, according to the motion:
“a) The parties, their counsel, and others acting on their behalf shall refrain from making any further public statements about this matter or the facts underlying it until the litigation is completed;
“b) The School shall be entitled to identify Plaintiffs and J.D. during the discovery and fact investigation process to third parties and during depositions, and Plaintiff shall bear the costs of redacting any documents filed with the Court bearing Plaintiffs and J.D.’s names are personally identifiable information; and
“c) Plaintiffs and J.D. should not be allowed to proceed under pseudonyms at the trial of this matter.”
In June of 2014, Labrie lured the freshman into meeting him in a mechanical room on campus that was used as a setting for the annual practice of the “Senior Salute.” Senior boys try to seduce as many freshmen girls as possible before graduating, according to The Cut. Labrie claimed the encounter was consensual, but New Hampshire law sets the age of consent at 16, and the girl was only 15 at the time.
Labrie initially faced felony charges, but was ultimately found guilty of three counts of misdemeanor sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and illegal use of computer services, as he used internet communication to set up the meeting between him and the minor for the “Senior Salute.” Even though Labrie has been convicted, he is currently free on bail pending an appeal of his conviction.
According to The Daily Beast, attorney Andrew T. Miltenberg, who specializes in representing campus sexual assault cases, wasn’t buying the justification in St. Paul’s argument that the victim’s identity be revealed, and their subsequent attempt to clarify the motion. While requesting plaintiffs keep quiet to the media is not out of the ordinary, trying to force the victim’s identity to be revealed is definitely not standard practice.
“Quite frankly, I think it’s disturbing that they’re trying to essentially intimidate [the victim] to drop the case, absent her contemplating moving forward in her own name.”
[Photo by Charles Krupa/AP Images]