During last year’s trial in which graduating senior Owen Labrie was charged with sexually assaulting a younger student at the prestigious St. Paul’s School, his accuser was shielded in anonymity by law.
Chessy Prout, who was 15 years old at the time of the incident, has now decided to publicly reveal her identity in order to speak out about the crime.
“I want everyone to know that I am not afraid or ashamed anymore, and I never should have been,” Prout told Savannah Guthrie in an exclusive interview that aired on TODAY Tuesday.
Labrie, 20, was acquitted on three counts of felony sexual assault in August 2015 and convicted on three counts of misdemeanor sexual assault, felony illegal use of computer services and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child. He is currently appealing the verdict.
Labrie had been accused of raping Prout during a ritual called the “Senior Salute” at the prestigious boarding academy in Concord, New Hampshire. The ritual involves seniors trying to have sex with younger girls in the school before graduating.
“It’s been two years now since the whole ordeal, and I feel ready to stand up and own what happened to me and make sure other people, other girls and boys, don’t need to be ashamed, either,” Prout said.
Prout says the criminal trial, which made national headlines, could have been avoided.
“We had been prepared to just receive an apology letter,” she said. “We had been prepared to finish this and just move forward with our lives and let them move forward with their lives, but, you know what, in the pursuit of justice I would’ve done anything.”
Prout took the stand and testified for three days during the trial.
“It was something that was necessary,” she said. “Although it was scary and although it was pretty difficult…I wouldn’t be where I am today without having been able to speak up for myself during that time,” she said.
In October 2015, Labrie was sentenced to a year in jail, but was initially free while the appeal of the verdict was pending. Labrie was ordered to adhere to a curfew from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. at his mother’s house in Vermont, but was found by a judge to have violated the curfew in March and taken into custody to begin serving his jail sentence.
However, he was freed on bail again in May after a New Hampshire judge gave him another chance to live at his mother’s house as long as he wears a GPS monitor as he awaits his appeal. Labrie is also currently registered as a sex offender in New Hampshire pending his appeal.
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SOURCE: TODAY, Scott Stump