Posted: August 20, 2015 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: Crime, Criminal Justice System, morning reads | Tags: "slaying" girls, Concord NH, J.W. Carney, misogyny, Owen Labrie, rape, rape culture, Senior Salute, Sexism, St. Paul's School |
St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH
I’ve been following the rape trial that is going on right now in New Hampshire. The testimony of the alleged victim of a rape at St. Paul’s School suggests that this exclusive private boarding school has an educational environment suffused with sexism, misogyny, and rape culture. We’ve all heard about the many colleges and universities where rape has been ignored and minimized. Is rape culture also widespread in secondary schools around the country? Probably, but at St. Paul’s the acceptance of sexual assault is apparently quite explicit.
I’m not sure how to frame this, so I’m going to begin with some early stories about the trial and go from there.
Associated Press: Rape case points to sordid tradition at elite prep school.
Aerial view of St. Paul’s School
St. Paul’s School boasts a glittering roster of alumni that includes senators, congressmen, a Nobel laureate and the current secretary of state. The elite prep school also allegedly has a sordid tradition of sexual conquest where graduating boys try to take the virginity of younger girls before getting their diplomas.
Details of a practice authorities say was called the “Senior Salute” were spelled out in stark terms by a former prefect at the New Hampshire school who is charged with raping a 15-year-old girl on the roof of a campus building in May 2014.
Owen Labrie, now 19, has pleaded not guilty to several felonies. When his trial begins Monday, prosecutors are expected to call current and former students to testify about the sexual culture at one of the country’s most selective boarding schools.
Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, talked openly about the tradition when he was interviewed by Concord police. On a campus where upperclassmen studiously avoid their younger peers in most settings, Labrie told a detective some students “take great pride” in having sex with older students before they leave school.
Labrie also told the detective of a contest where boys compete to “score” with the most girls, keeping a running tally written in indelible marker on a wall behind washing machines. The school kept painting over the scoreboard so it eventually was moved online. He acknowledged to the detective he was “trying to be number one,” the detective wrote.
The New Chapel at St. Paul’s School
The school administrators were well aware of this “tradition” and, according to one counselor, were “trying to educate students against ‘sexual scoring.'”
Excuse me? That sounds pretty weak. What happened to actually banning a practice and explicitly policing the behavior at time time it “traditionally” takes place?
Labrie was an outstanding student who had been accepted to Harvard until the rape accusations surfaced. Harvard now says he’s no longer listed as a student.
Labrie’s defense attorney is well-known and expensive Boston lawyer J.W. Carney, who also defended notorious gangster Whitey Bulger.
Some background on St. Paul’s School:
Founded in 1856, St. Paul’s is an Episcopal school nestled on 2,000 pastoral acres on the outskirts of downtown Concord, New Hampshire’s capital. It enrolls about 530 students and admitted girls for the first time in 1971. Tuition, room and board currently clocks in at $53,810.
The school belongs to the Eight Schools Association, a sort of Ivy League for prep schools that includes Choate Rosemary Hall and Hotchkiss in Connecticut, Phillips Academy Andover, Deerfield Academy and Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey and Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.
Secretary of State John Kerry graduated from St. Paul’s in 1962, alongside former FBI Director Robert Mueller. Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau is an alum as are 13 U.S. ambassadors, three Pulitzer Prize winners, two World Series of Poker winners, actor Judd Nelson and sons of the Astor and Kennedy families, according to the school’s website.
The school also has a robust international presence: 17 percent of the 2014-15 class came from 25 countries and notable alums include Bernard Makihara, the former CEO of the Mitsubishi Corporation, and Edmund Maurice Burke Roche, a conservative member of the British Parliament and the maternal grandfather of Diana, Princess of Wales.
Owen Labrie’s mugshot
Labrie told police that he didn’t have sex with the alleged victim. Instead, he claims “in a moment of restraint” and “divine inspiration” he decided not to have intercourse with the 15-year-old girl even though she was “eager” to do so. He also explained that the girl lied because “it’s a “great source of pride for younger students” to have sex with seniors.
WTF?! Then why would she go through the nightmare of a trial in she knows she’ll be humiliated and shamed?
The Boston Globe: Prosecutor: St. Paul’s rape suspect talked about ‘slaying’ girls as part of hookup contest.
Prosecutors say Labrie arranged for a tryst with the girl at St. Paul’s School in a secluded machine room in a school building, prosecutors say he took it further than she wanted it to go.
took the stand late Tuesday afternoon, answering questions about her upbringing and how she ended up at St. Paul’s, where she enrolled as a freshman in 2013.
Today, the girl is testifying about what led to that night in the machine room. She initially rebuffed his message, thinking it was a form letter he sent to lots of girls.
Owen Labrie had been making a list of girls to hook up with months before a 15-year-old accused him of sexually assaulting her at their elite New England prep school, but her name was the only one written in capital letters, a prosecutor said Tuesday….
There was a game above it all: a storied hookup contest among the school’s upperclassmen called the “Senior Salute.” Labrie and his friends talked about “slaying” girls, with April and May referred to as SLAYpril and SLAY, Deputy Merrimack County Attorney Catherine J. Ruffle said.
“This case is about Owen Labrie sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl,” Ruffle said in her opening statement. “It’s about how he thought about this for months.
Prosecutor Catherine Ruffle delivers her opening arguments against Owen Labrie to the jury in the Merrimack County Superior Court, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Concord, N.H.(AP Photo/Jim Cole, Pool)
The girl testified on Tuesday and Wednesday and she was reportedly very emotional, describing her confusion, fear, and lack of control over what happened; but she also described how she felt responsible for what happened and, tried to soothe Labrie’s feelings. She didn’t want to cause an uproar, because her older sister was graduating from the school two days later and she (the victim) didn’t want to make it all about her.
NBC News: St. Paul’s School Rape Trial: Accuser Tells Court ‘I Felt Like I Couldn’t Say No.’
A 16-year-old girl who says she was raped at a prestigious New Hampshire prep school returned to the witness stand on Wednesday, recounting a secret date with an older boy that turned suddenly aggressive.
The girl described her confusion as he groped her in secluded room of a campus building at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire in May 2014. “I felt like I was frozen,” she said through tears as she described the accused, Owen Labrie, kissing and biting her and trying to pull down her underwear.
As the groping continued, she said, “I felt like I had no control. I felt like I couldn’t say no.”
A little later, the girl said, she did say no. But as the alleged attack continued, she said she tried to zone out, looking at the ceiling and trying to ignore the pain. That continued through what she described as unwanted sexual intercourse, she said.
“I didn’t want to believe that this was happening to me,” the girl said under questioning from Deputy Merrimack County Attorney Catherine Ruffle.
Recent St. Paul’s School graduate Owen Labrie, right, stands with one of his lawyers, J.W. Carney, as jurors view the school grounds, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, Pool)
More from the Manchester Union Leader:
The girl, who was 15 at the time, said Labrie, then 18, sent her what she considered to be a “senior salute,” an invitation from a senior to a girl in the lower classes for a meeting that could result in as little as a kiss or as much as sexual intercourse….
The young girl Labrie was pursuing said she knew of the tradition because her older sister was also a senior at St. Paul’s in 2014.
So her first reaction was to refuse, but Labrie sent an envoy, a friend of the girl, to plead his case and she succumbed to the flattery and agreed to meet him.
Part of the reason for agreeing was his claim to have keys to one of the buildings whose roof was off limits to students. She liked the idea of being able to see a view not available to most students.
She said she expected there would be kissing involved “but that’s all.”
But she was wrong.
She said he took her to the building rooftop, but then back inside the unlighted mechanical room. There he started by kissing her, then, despite her efforts to stop him, he removed her bra and pants and sexually assaulted her.
She said at one point he laughed and said: “You are such a tease.”
When it was over, she said, “I couldn’t believe what had just happened to me.”
The girl said when Labrie was finished with her he left her get dressed and go back to her dorm, where she met up with her girlfriends and told them what happened.
Deputy Merrimack County Attorney Catherine Ruffle had the girl read copies of email and Facebook messages between Labrie and herself, messages that were projected on a large screen for jurors.
The girl explained that her friends dictated the messages she sent to Labrie about him using protection.
St. Paul’s School
The text messages the girl sent to Labrie are the center of the defense case that she “was a “willing participant” in the sex. I’ll get to that in a minute. First a few more details on the assault from MSNBC:
“I felt like I was frozen,” the accuser said.
“I felt so scared,” she added. “I had no idea what was going on. I had never been put in a situation like that.”
Her second day on the witness stand, the girl continued recounting the events that led to the alleged assault….
The girl said that she and Labrie stood briefly on the roof, and that later, inside an industrial area. She said that the two began kissing and removed some clothing when Labrie became too aggressive, biting her chest and forcing himself on her.
The girl grew emotional as she recounted the intimate details of the encounter, responding to questions from the prosecutor as her family looked on from reserved seating, and telling the court that she didn’t kick or scream as the encounter went on.
“In that moment, I wasn’t strong enough,” the girl said.
She later told the court she said ‘no’ three times. “I don’t know how I could have made it more clear,” she said.
Owen Labrie’s defense attorney Jaw W. Carney, left, gives his opening arguments Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
The cross examination began yesterday and continues today. As I said above, the biggest problem for the prosecution is that this young girl was very focused on not making a scene or being “bitchy.” She was seemingly very concerned about upsetting Labrie or generally calling attention to herself. From the MNSNBC article cited above:
Still, the girl was pressed by prosecutor Catherine Ruffle, the Deputy Merrimack County Attorney, about an email exchange she had with Labrie after the incident, in which Labrie described her as “an angel.”
Reading from copies of the messages displayed on a courtroom projector, the girl told the court that she replied: “You’re quite an angel yourself, but would you mind keeping the events of this evening to yourself for now?”
Asked why she had called Labrie an angel, the girl said she was trying not to upset him.
“It was almost like I was sticking to the script that he was offering,” she said of his email. “I thought it would be rude otherwise to ignore it, or it would cause him to approach me again if I ignored it. I was afraid of him coming after me again.”
In subsequent messages over Facebook, the girl told the court, she asked Labrie if he wore a condom and he assured her he had, and inquired if she was taking birth control medication.
Owen Labrie in court
Just one last article, from The Boston Globe: Why was the prep school girl so nice to the man she says raped her?
To the defense attorneys of Owen Labrie, the now-19-year-old man accused of raping the girl last year on the campus of their prestigious New England prep school, the message and others like it are obvious evidence that she was not raped, that she was a willing participant in what happened in that dark room. Why else would she chat and giggle and seemingly flirt in some cases if what happened was rape and not a consensual encounter between two teens?
The explanation of the girl, now 16 and on the witness stand in a Concord, New Hampshire courtroom: She didn’t want to offend him. She was trying to be polite. She didn’t want to be “bitchy,” or a “withering little girl.”
And so her chats replying to him in cutesy French phrases, lamenting the loss of her favorite earring, calling him a good guy, paint a blurry picture of how she really felt after what she now calls a rape.
Personally, I can relate to what this girl says. She was only 15 and says she was a virgin.
Part of the reason why she agreed to Labrie’s emailed invitation for a “Senior Salute” on May 30, 2014 in the first place was out of fear she was too rude when she initially rebuffed him.
“I felt bad I’d sent such an attacking response back,” said the girl, who Boston.com is not naming. “I thought that I was rude and that I was wrong and I had been wrong about everything.”
The girl knew the reason Labrie sent her a flowery email asking to spend time with her. Senior Salute was well known on campus as an attempt to hook up with as many people as possible before graduation. Prosecutors said Labrie and his friends made it a game, competing to see how many girls they could “slay” before they left school.
During the assault itself, she said, she was still thinking about him and his feelings. Right after telling him that no, she didn’t want his face between her legs, and pulling his face away, she laughed.
“I wanted to be easygoing,” she said. “I wanted to not cause a conflict. I didn’t want to come off as bitchy or … I didn’t want to cause any trouble.”
Wincing, walking back to her dorm, she told no one. She wouldn’t even tell her best friend, whom she sat with immediately after the encounter, what really happened. She didn’t want to burden her with her issues.
As she saw her sister graduate, and took her exams, she kept quiet. Her family wasn’t on campus to worry about her and her problems, they were there to celebrate her sister.
Read the rest at the link, if you can. I’ve already quoted too much.
So . . . What do you think? As always, this is an open thread.
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Posted: July 11, 2013 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: morning reads | Tags: Alexander Kouzminov, Boston Bombings, Bradley Manning, Don West, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Ed Fucarile, Edward Snowden, George Zimmerman, J.W. Carney, James "Whitey" Bulger, John Guy, Jr., Judge Debra Nelson, Kevin Weeks, Marc Fucarile, Mark O'Mara, Oleg Gordievsky, Trayvon Martin |
There’s been quite a bit of legal and courthouse news this week, so I’m going to focus on that today.
Yesterday was a big day at the Boston Federal Courthouse as the Whitey Bulger trial was briefly eclipsed by the first court appearance of Boston Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. From The Boston Globe:
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev shuffled into the courtroom, appearing confident despite the ankle chains and an orange jumpsuit so big on him that it made him appear younger than his 19 years.
As federal prosecutors read the charges against him Wednesday in his first appearance since being captured in April, Tsarnaev repeatedly looked over his shoulder at the packed courtroom, at one point blowing a kiss to his sisters, one sobbing and another holding a baby.
He leaned into the microphone in the hushed courtroom to tell Judge Marianne B. Bowler with an accent that he pleaded not guilty to 30 charges, including use of weapons of mass destruction. More than 30 victims of the Marathon bombings and about a dozen supporters who say they believe Tsarnaev is innocent watched intently as the accused terrorist yawned and stroked the side of his face, which appeared swollen from a wound.
Tsarnaev, who could receive the death penalty, fidgeted in his seat as he listened to the charges, one of his attorneys patting him on the back gently several times. He had a visible scar just below his throat and had a cast on his left arm.
ABC News talked to survivors of the April 15 bombings who showed up to watch Tsarnaev’s court appearance.
Friends and family members of people whose lives were shattered when two homemade bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15 packed three rooms in a federal courthouse on Wednesday as suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to a 30-count indictment.
But the fleeting courtroom encounter brought little relief to Bostonians who said the 19-year-old —accused of conducting the deadly bombings with the help of his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev —showed little feeling.
“He came out and he smirked at the families,” said Ed Fucarile, 64, outside of the John Joseph Moakley federal courthouse along the water in South Boston. “The lawyers put their hands on his shoulders like it was going to be all right.”
Fucarile wore a Boston Strong t-shirt with the name of Marc Fucarile, his son who lost his right leg and still carries shrapnel in his body, the father said.
Marc Fucarile, 34, was standing near the second blast when it went off. He still has more surgeries to go, and has spent every day of the nearly three months since receiving medical care, his father said. Members of the family have taken weeks off work so that someone is always at Marc’s bedside, he said.
Read more survivors’ stories at the link.
Bulger defense team: J.W. Carney Jr. and Hank Brennan
At the Whitey Bulger trial, there was a bit of comic relief as Bulger flew into a rage toward the end of testimony and exchanged curses with his former close friend and partner Kevin Weeks. It was reminiscent of a scene from Sopranos.
Bulger’s lawyer, J.W. Carney, tried to portray Weeks as an opportunist who knew how to manipulate the system, someone who cut a deal with prosecutors to serve just five years in prison for aiding and abetting five killings, several of which, Weeks testified, he saw Bulger commit.
“You won against the system,” said Carney.
“What did I win? What did I win,” Weeks said, his voice sounding strained and tired. “Five people are dead.”
Asked whether that bothered him, Weeks shot back, “We killed people that were rats, and I had the two biggest rats right next to me …”
At that, Bulger turned and hissed, “You suck.”
“F— you, OK,” snapped Weeks.
“F— you, too,” shouted Bulger as the jury watched.
“What do you want to do?” said Weeks, his eyes locked on Bulger, who was flushed and staring right back.
At one point Weeks even threatened Carney, asking him if he’d like to step outside.
Weeks grew belligerent and threatening as Carney accused him of lying, challenged his motivation for cooperating, and suggested that Weeks, not Bulger, was a rat.
“You can’t rat on a rat,” said Weeks, adding that he lives in South Boston and walks the streets without being called a rat.
When Carney asked Weeks what he would do if someone did call him a rat, Weeks snapped that if he stepped outside the courthouse he’d show him.
James Bulger and Kevin Weeks
Yesterday the testimony was even more grotesque and sickening, as forensic expert Ann Marie Mires testified about remains of murder victims Arthur Barrett, Deborah Hussey, John McIntyre, and Paul J. McGonagle. I’ll spare you the descriptions; you can go to the links and read more if you’re interested.
This morning Carney asked the judge for a break in the testimony so the defense team could catch up.
The defense team for James “Whitey” Bulger is asking the judge to suspend testimony until next week so they can catch up on evidence.
Defense attorney J.W. Carney filed the motion with the court on Thursday.
“Simply put, the defendant’s counsel have hit a wall, and are unable to proceed further without additional time to prepare for upcoming witnesses,” the motion reads. “Counsel have struggled mightily to be ready for each day of the trial since it began on June 3, 2013, working seven days a week and extraordinarily long hours.” [….]
“A major problem has been the delay in the receipt of discovery from the prosecution,” the motion reads, citing examples of receiving binders of documents pertaining to testimony to be given by witnesses the evening before they take the stand.
Yesterday defense teams rested in both the Bradley Manning and the George Zimmerman trials.
From the Guardian via Raw Story: Bradley Manning defense rests its case after calling just 10 witnesses
Having called just 10 witnesses over the space of three days, the defence phase of the trial was brought to a close far quicker than expected. The defence had indicated in earlier hearings that it intended to call more than 40 witnesses, although many may yet still be presented in court during the post-verdict sentencing stage of the court martial.
By contrast, the prosecution took 14 days to make its case, drawing on 80 witnesses.
On Wednesday, the defence team lead by the civilian lawyer David Coombs, focused its attentions on the most serious charge facing the Army private – that he “aided the enemy” by transmitting information to WikiLeaks knowing that it would be accessible to enemy groups notably al-Qaida. Manning faces a possible sentence of life in military custody with no chance of parole under this single charge.
The final defence witness called, the Harvard law professor Yochai Benkler, delivered blistering testimony in which he portrayed WikiLeaks as a legitimate web-based journalistic organisation. He also warned the judge presiding in the case, Colonel Denise Lind, that if the “aiding the enemy” charge was interpreted broadly to suggest that handing information to a website that could be read by anyone with access to the internet was the equivalent of handing to the enemy, then that serious criminal accusation could be levelled against all media outlets that published on the web.
Prosecutor John Guy with dummy
Yesterday was quite a theatrical one in the Zimmerman trial, as a mannequin was brought into court and both a prosecutor and defense attorney Mark O’Mara got down on the floor and straddled the dummy in effort to act out what might have happened during an alleged altercation between Zimmerman and his victim Trayvon Martin.
As professional images go, what followed in the courtroom was probably not something for which Mark O’Mara would most like to be remembered.
Hitching up his pant legs and straddling a life-size human mannequin, Zimmerman’s lead defense counsel got down and dirty on the courtroom floor and proceeded to demonstrate for jurors the “ground and pound” move that they have been told Martin exerted on the accused.
Coming a day after he encouraged one of his witnesses, gym owner and mixed martial arts trainer Adam Pollack, to “step down from the stand to give me an example of a mounted position,” prostrating himself on the floor and asking Pollack, “Where do you want me?” the episode made for an awkward role play, leaving court observers snickering and biting their lips in the midst of an otherwise tragic plot.
Earlier in the day, prosecutor John Guy—described by one public observer in the courtroom on the trial’s opening day as “the supermodel of attorneys”—had also hopped on the mannequin for a similar demonstration in front of the all-female jury.
Don West and George Zimmerman
Later Judge Debra Nelson had a “testy exchange” with defense attorney Don West as she asked Zimmerman whether he planned to take the stand. Zimmerman seemed unsure, and West tried to step in.
West repeatedly challenged Nelson’s decision to press Zimmerman for a clear answer. The judge repeatedly slapped him down, her voice gathering volume every time.
“The court is entitled to ask Mr. Zimmerman about his determination as to whether he wants to testify,” Nelson insisted tersely after West objected to her line of questioning.
She looked back at Zimmerman: “How long do you think you need before you make that decision?” she inquired again, as the defendant—who had a minute earlier been made to raise his hand and swear under oath that any decision whether to testify would be his—turned to his counsel for help.
“I object to the court inquiring of Zimmerman about his intention to testify,” West whimpered for a second time.
“I object to the court inquiring of Zimmerman about his intention to testify,” West whimpered for a second time.
“And I have O-VER-RULED” Judge Nelson spat back—several times—as the objections kept coming.
Finally Zimmerman haltingly said he did not want to testify. I think he actually wanted to–if only. What a disaster that would have been for his attorneys! Closing arguments are scheduled to begin this afternoon.
In other news, I can’t resist sharing this article from Time Magazine about what former Russian spies think is probably happening to Edward Snowden in Russia.
In the summer of 1985, KGB colonel Oleg Gordievsky was called back to Moscow from the Soviet embassy in London, where he was serving as a resident spy. As a pretext, his commanders told him that he was going to receive an award for his service. But in fact the KGB suspected him of being a double agent — which he was — and they were looking to interrogate him. So upon his arrival, his KGB colleagues, still concealing their suspicions, took him to a comfortable country estate in the suburbs of the Russian capital, much like the one where Gordievsky and other former spies believe Edward Snowden, the NSA whistle-blower, has spent the past few weeks….
The official story coming from the Russian government since then is that Snowden has been holed up in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, waiting for some third country to grant him asylum. But few experts or officials in Moscow still believe that to be true. The accepted wisdom, unofficially acknowledged by most Western and Russian sources, is that Snowden was taken soon after his arrival — if not immediately — to a secure location run by some arm of the Russian government.
Experts and former spies who have dealt with the Russian security services are sure that agents would want to get the encryption keys to the data stored on Snowden’s four laptops. The only way to do that would be to get Snowden to give them up.
So Gordievsky believes Snowden would have gotten roughly the same treatment that the KGB spy got back in 1985. “They would have fed him something to loosen his tongue,” Gordievsky says by phone from the U.K., where he has been living in exile for nearly three decades. “Many different kinds of drugs are available, as I experienced for myself.” Having been called back to Moscow, Gordievsky says his KGB comrades drugged him with a substance that “turned out his lights” and made him “start talking in a very animated way.” Although the drug wiped out most of his memory of the incident, the parts he did recollect horrified him the following morning, when he woke up feeling ill. “I realized that I had completely compromised myself,” he says.
One of the substances the KGB used for such purposes at the time was called SP-117, which is odorless, tasteless and colorless, according Alexander Kouzminov, a former Russian intelligence operative who describes the drug’s effectiveness in his book, Biological Espionage. Now living in New Zealand, Kouzminov worked in the 1980s and early 1990s for the Foreign Intelligence Service, the spy agency known as the SVR, which handles undercover agents, or “illegals,” stationed in foreign countries. In his book, Kouzminov writes that various drugs were used periodically to test these operatives for signs of disloyalty or diversion. Once the drug had worn off, the agents would have no recollection of what they had said and, if their test results were satisfactory, they could be sent back into the field as though nothing had happened.
Yesterday, Snowden announced through Glenn Greenwald that “I never gave any information to Chinese or Russian governments.” I guess he assumes that Chinese and Russian officials don’t read The Guardian, The Washington Post, or the South China Morning Post. Anyway now it’s not clear if he would even remember if he gave them anything.
For all you Snowden and Greenwald fans out there, this information comes from an article in Time Magazine based on interviews with people who have actual experience with the ways Russia deals with spies. Don’t shoot the messenger.
Now it’s your turn. What stories are you focused on today. Please share you links on any topic in the comment thread, and have a tremendous Thursday!
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