A young student at a prep school who was the victim of a sexual assault has spoken out for the first time of the high-profile rape case that took place two years ago at the elite boarding school.
Chessy Prout, now 17, appeared in an interview on the Today show with host Savannah Guthrie to tell her story concerning the incident that happened in May 2014 at St. Paul's School in New Hampshire. Prout stated that former student Owen Labrie sexually assaulted her two years ago, and that she had remained anonymous throughout the trial, writes Scott Stump for Today.
"It's been two years now since the whole ordeal, and I feel ready to stand up and own what happened to me, and I'm going to make sure that other people — other girls, other boys — know that they can own it too, and they don't have to be ashamed either," Prout said in the NBC interview.
Labrie, who was arrested only days after his graduation from the school, was found guilty of misdemeanor sexual assault in 2015. He was acquitted of felony sexual assault charges. He was also found guilty of illegal computer use, a felony. As a result, he was required to register as a sex offender and was sentenced to one year in prison with probation to follow, reports Abby Jackson for Business Insider.
Prosecutors argued that Labrie had raped Prout as part of a tradition at the school, which is thought to include sexual encounters between older and younger students. The tradition is known as the "Senior Salute," writes Christine Hauser for The New York Times.
The school denies the existence of any sort of tradition like that.
"I hope he learns," Prout said. "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."
Prout's parents have since filed a lawsuit against the school, claiming that they have allowed "a tradition of ritualized statutory rape."
In a statement which was emailed to The Washington Post, St. Paul's School noted that it admires the courage Prout has, and does not support the sort of behavior that she had endured. The school went on to say it places the safety of its students first and believes the environment of the school supports that.
Prout said that she must still deal with panic attacks as a result of the incident. In order to calm herself down, she said she locks herself in her closet because she does not want her little sister to see her. Once inside, she rocks back and forth and punches her legs. She went on to say that her sister tries to comfort her in those times by hugging her and saying, "Chessy, you're okay. Chessy, you're okay."
At the time of the incident, Prout was a 15-year-old freshman. She has since left the school and is set to begin her senior year at another school.
Labrie is free pending an appeal of his conviction.