Defense cross-examines accuser in St. Paul’s rape case

The girl recalled the whir of the surrounding machines, their operating lights flashing in the darkness. She remembered the chill of the floor, and fought back tears as she recounted for jurors the moment she realized the older student’s hands were no longer down at her waist, yet something was still forcibly inside her.

But she had left some things out, a defense attorney asserted Thursday in Merrimack County Superior Court, while cross-examining her in the trial of her alleged assailant, Owen Labrie.

The girl had not mentioned raising her arms to help Labrie, then 18, remove her shirt, or quietly following him onto the blanket he had brought and just laid out. She glanced over the part about lifting her hips as Labrie slid off her pants. Jurors had not heard her remark to police about him potentially misinterpreting her occasional laughter.

For more than an hour inside a packed Concord courtroom, the defense worked to chip away at the former St. Paul’s School student’s narrative, noting that she allegedly expected and planned for some sexual activity with Labrie; that she behaved cordially toward him before, during and after their encounter; and that she herself worried after that she had not been clear enough about what she did and did not want at the time.

“Other than me saying no to the first part, I don’t think he would have known for a fact that I would not want to do that,” the girl, now 16, told an investigator last year, according to a transcript read by lead defense attorney Jay Carney.

Through tense, often confrontational questioning, Carney worked to portray Labrie as an unassuming, gentlemanly adolescent caught in a web of lies. He said the girl had willingly responded to his “senior salute” invitation, knowing about the notoriety of the ritual and that a reply – even if it was a refusal – showed interest to the sender. He noted that she had groomed her genital area and told a close friend that she planned to let Labrie penetrate her digitally, if he wanted, and “at most” perform oral sex on him.

At some point, Carney said, the girl informed Labrie that he could tell others they had been together, “for the sake of numbers.”

The girl did not deny that, and has said she doesn’t remember telling her friend about her expectations, but she was adamant that Labrie’s sexual advances were unwanted at the time. She said she froze out of fear and uncertainty, and that he did become overly aggressive, biting her and at one point forcing her to the ground.

“I didn’t know how to deal with it,” she testified Wednesday. “I’d never been in a situation like this. I’d never been touched in that way.”

At times Thursday, Carney’s questioning drew heated responses. He accused the girl of having acted deceptively after the encounter, infusing her messages to Labrie with “haha” and other seemingly affectionate comments. He pressed her when she called into question parts of her statement to police in the days after the May 30 encounter.

“I was raped!” the girl said, sobbing. “I was cloudy because I was traumatized.” Minutes later, during a morning recess, she was rushed out of the courtroom, her face flush and wet with tears. She did not retake the stand, but prosecutors can still call her back to testify.