Testifying for the first time since the trial began last week in a case that has cast a harsh light on the culture of an elite New Hampshire school, defendant Owen Labrie said he ''had been chatting and flirting'' with the alleged victim. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) A former student on trial for rape in a case that has cast a harsh light on the culture of an elite New Hampshire prep school took the stand on Wednesday as his lawyer began making the case that he had not sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl last year. Owen Labrie, 19, has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexually assaulting the younger student at St. Paul's School in Concord. Testifying for the first time since the trial began last week, Labrie said he had a "flirty" relationship with the alleged victim. "It was kind of silly," Labrie said. "It was a little romantic." Defense attorney J.W. Carney has contended that Labrie and the girl, who last week testified that Labrie raped her in a machine room in a campus building, had a consensual encounter that followed a friendly, flirtatious exchange between the two and did not include intercourse. The "senior salute" is a school tradition in which graduating students extend invitations to get together with younger students, often for sexual purposes, several students testified during the trial. St. Paul's, whose alumni include powerful U.S. business and political leaders such as Secretary of State John Kerry, has said "senior salute" does not reflect its values. Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, testified that he had been able to attend the prestigious school only because he had received a full scholarship. He faces three felony assault charges, which each carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Several of Labrie's friends this week testified that he had told them he had sex with the girl. The alleged victim, now 16, last week testified that she had expected to kiss Labrie when she accepted his invitation but no more.