The teenage victim in a high-profile prep school rape case revealed her identity on national TV Tuesday morning, saying she’s “not afraid or ashamed anymore.”
Chessy Prout, a former student at the prestigious St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H., told NBC’s “Today” that she’s coming forward to embolden all victims of sexual assault.
“I want other people to feel empowered and just strong enough to be able to say, ‘I have the right to my body. I have the right to say no,’” said Prout, whose name was previously withheld because of the nature of the crime. “I just can’t imagine how scary it is for other people to have to do this alone, and I don’t want anybody else to be alone anymore.”
Owen Labrie, now 20, was accused of raping Prout at the historic co-ed school in May 2014. His arrest and conviction exposed a tradition at the $55,290-a-year boarding school called “senior salute,” in which some graduating boys allegedly kept score of how many younger students they had sex with.
The trial, which took place a year ago, was the focus of national media attention.
Labrie was acquitted of three felony charges and misdemeanor assault but convicted on three counts of misdemeanor sexual assault and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child. Jurors also found him guilty of using a computer to “seduce, solicit, lure or entice a child under the age of 16,” a felony.
“They said that they didn’t believe that he did it knowingly, and that frustrated me a lot because he definitely did do it knowingly,” Prout said Tuesday. “And the fact that he was still able to pull the wool over a group of people’s eyes bothered me a lot and just disgusted me in some way.”
On the stand, Labrie described their activity, which he said was consensual, but he denied having sex with Prout.
“It wouldn’t have been a good move to have sex with this girl,” he recalled thinking at the time when he said he and the girl were kissing in a school tower.
A judge sentenced Labrie to a year in jail, but he is currently out on bail while appealing the verdict.
Prout now volunteers with the advocacy group PAVE (Promoting Awareness/Victim Empowerment). On Tuesday, the nonprofit organization launched a social media campaign tied to the St. Paul’s case, which they said prompted an important conversation about sexual assault and bullying in high school.
“I hope he learns,” Prout told “Today.” “I hope he gets help. And that’s all I can ever hope for in any sort of process like this. Because if he doesn’t learn, he will do it to another young woman.”