CONCORD, N.H. (Reuters) - A popular former student at an elite New Hampshire boarding school wept when a detective called him to say she wanted to interview him about allegations he raped a younger teenager and denied the charges, the detective testified on Tuesday.
Owen Labrie, now 19, initially reacted to inquiries about the alleged May 2014 attack by emphasizing his accomplishments at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, said Concord Police Detective Julie Curtin during the fifth day of his trial.
Labrie denied having had sex with the alleged victim, who was 15 at the time, Curtin said.
The trial has cast a harsh light on the culture of the prep school, whose alumni include powerful U.S. business and political figures including Secretary of State John Kerry.
Students have testified that it was common for graduating seniors to extend invitations to younger students to get together for so-called “senior salutes,” often for sexual purposes.
St. Paul’s has said that the alleged tradition does not reflect its values.
Curtin said she asked Labrie what a “senior salute” was.
“He said some students want to take the virginity of younger students, but he said that’s not what he was doing” with the teen, she said.
The alleged victim last week testified that when she accepted Labrie’s invitation, she thought they would kiss but no more, and she had not been prepared for his aggressive approach.
A state police forensics specialist, Kevin McMahon, testified that a portion of the teen’s underwear tested positive for a substance that gave a “strong indication” of being semen.
However, he said tests for semen from the alleged victim’s genital area came back negative.
Defense attorney J.W. Carney said the two had a consensual encounter that did not include intercourse. Several of Labrie’s friends testified on Monday that he had told them he had sex with the girl.
Carney attempted to cast doubt on Curtin’s interrogation tactics.
“Over and over and over, you kept asking different ways he may have penetrated her,” Carney asked the detective. “Didn’t he say at one point, ‘I told you ten times?’”
Curtin affirmed that Labrie had said that.
Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, is expected to testify in his own defense before the trial’s conclusion, which could come as early as this week.
He has pleaded not guilty to three felony sexual assault charges, which each carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Emily Stephenson