August 29, 2015

"St. Paul’s School failed the children with their attitude toward the senior salute."

Said the lawyer for Owen Labrie, who was 18 at the time of his encounter with a 15-year-old girl.
He described the school as a place where boys, living away from home under the watch of an elite old institution, felt pressure to act like “studs.”

The prosecution said the onus was on Mr. Labrie, not the school. “This isn’t the fault of the culture that’s at St. Paul’s,” Joseph Cherniske, an assistant county attorney, said in his closing argument. “It was the defendant who manipulated that culture.”
The onus is on each individual to control himself and refrain from committing crimes, despite a culture that may urge him on and cause him to lose track of right and wrong. But the onus is on the prosecution to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

ADDED:  Vester Lee Flanagan II is dead, but surely we hold him responsible for the crimes he committed. And yet, we can see that there was a culture that nurtured his distorted, murderous thinking.

53 comments:

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

There's something seriously wrong with an 18 year old who wants to have sex with a 15 year old.

He should be convicted of that.

And sentenced to a good, solid ass-kicking.

Once written, twice... said...

What is not being talked about on college campuses (and I realize this case involves a prep school) is a discussion of reintroducing the concept of "in loco parentis". Also what is clearly not working is the hookup culture. Maybe we need to move back to a university culture where pre-marital sex is frowned upon and individuals of the opposite sex are not allowed to be alone together on university property. Dorm rooms use to be off limits to individuals of the opposite sex.

David Begley said...

Translation: Civil suit coming against St.Paul's for allowing this tradition to continue presuming the administration knew about it. Big insurance coverage and big endowment. Not much different than cases against the Catholic Church.

MadisonMan said...

I wonder if applications to St Paul's have been affected by this. I hope so.

sojerofgod said...

The guy committed crime, no doubt.
But why do we in this society insist on continuing to adhere to the fantasy that an 18 year old is an adult?
This goes back to the draft protests of the Vietnam war.
The logical progression was something like this (for you youngsters)
ARMY: We want to draft 18 year olds to send into combat.
KID: Huh? I'm not an adult.
ARMY: you are what we say you are.
KID: So... I am too young to smoke, to drink, to have sex, and to VOTE on whether I go get maimed and killed, but I must go get maimed and killed?
ARMY: Shut up, kid.
KID: MOM!!!
VOTERS: This isn't fair.
ESTABLISHMENT: Ok, the kid gets to have a little fun before we ship him off to get maimed and killed, no skin off our nose (most won't vote anyway)
ARMY: YEAH!!!
KID: YEAH!!!
... so now we have a world where emotionally immature and inexperienced children are treated as full adults in our society, when they really are not.
And we let them volunteer to go get maimed and killed, as if they were mature enough to make that decision as an adult.
Sucks, doesn't it?

iowan2 said...

She's old enough to sell her babies head to Planned Parenthood, all with out parents permission or knowledge. Not old enough to consent.

Our society has drifted into such a surreal place.

And......age, like gender, is a meaningless social construct.

just keeping it real and consistent.

AReasonableMan said...

Eric the Fruit Bat said...
There's something seriously wrong with an 18 year old who wants to have sex with a 15 year old.


This is getting to be like the drug laws, where arbitrary application of unenforcible laws begins to undermine the whole edifice. Half the kids in my school would have been convicted by this standard.

Martha said...

The parents of the young girl seem to agree with Labrie's lawyer that St. Paul's is also at fault:

The victim's family said of the school; 'We still feel betrayed that St. Paul’s School allowed and fostered a toxic culture that left our daughter and other students at risk to sexual violence. We trusted the school to protect her and it failed us.
'We continue to feel anger and disappointment for the lack of character and integrity that the young men of St. Paul’s School showed, laughing and joking with Owen Labrie at graduation about “slaying” our daughter.
'Both the school and these young men should bear the shame of these crimes along with Owen Labrie.

Michael K said...

Pretty confused story and that seems to be the problem with the place. A place like that is full of kids who feel entitled. It reminds me of the "rough sex" case in New York a few years ago that also involved a couple of rich kids.

khesanh0802 said...

Ann, Your final paragraph is correct but it is too easy on the school. It ignores the fact that the school prides itself on instructing its students in morals and ethics. I believe that the school still holds daily chapel services. St. Paul's, more formally, was also acting "in loco parentis" and in that role they failed both the boy and the girl by not paying adequate attention to what was going on. Most private schools are very small, closed communities. It is very difficult for the faculty not to know about something like the "Senior Slaying".

MayBee said...

I can't believe this kid was convicted.

khesanh0802 said...

Just to add emphasis to my last point I was a student at an"elite private school" and a faculty member at another "elite private school" - neither was SPS.

sojerofgod said...

"...Either you have closed your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge, or you are unaware of the caliber of disaster indicated by the presence of a in your community..."

Your Professor Harold Hill moment of the day brought to you by "The Music Man"

A font of knowledge and morality play.

khesanh0802 said...

@ Maybee All you have to do is read the coverage of the trial to see why it came out as it did. See www.Boston.com.

sojerofgod said...

oops:
The sentence should have read "...indicated by the presence of a (Senior Slaying) in your community..."
but I used the symbol that the page interpreted as an html tag, so it left it out.

still early here.

MayBee said...

The culture encouraged this girl to meet with the Senior boy, knowing it was a "senior salute" and knowing she would at least be making out with him.

It sounds to me like she got home and her parents didn't like that culture, so they prosecuted him.

What about all the "prom nights" in all of history? Who can be sued for that culture?

JCC said...

It seems pretty obvious that there was something amiss with the culture and attitudes within the school, presumably starting with the administration and working down through teachers and student advisers. Again, an assumption, but this permissive culture probably had something to do with the relative wealth and power of the students' families to influence the staff's careers.

None of which relieves the adult defendant from responsibility to observe criminal statutes, something he understandably got wrong, probably having never been required to assume responsibility for anything before.

Tough to tell, not having sat through the testimony, but the verdict sounds about right, NG on the rape but guilty of lesser inclusive. Was it similar to statutory rape? I can't tell from the news reports.

MayBee said...

Here's the thing: Obviously, forcing sex on someone is a crime.

But in these grey-area crimes, we too often assume the boy/male knows what he is doing, is supremely self confident, and understands what the girl wants or doesn't want. But you know, guys can be awkward and not understand what is going on in a sexual situation. They aren't mind readers. They are sometimes confused rather than predators.

Its like sexually, men aren't being seen as complex human beings. They are just seen as aggressors and wrong.

MayBee said...

khesanh0802 said...
@ Maybee All you have to do is read the coverage of the trial to see why it came out as it did. See www.Boston.com.


I followed it. Tell me what you see in it that makes it an obvious conviction of a sex crime.

MadisonMan said...

St Pauls certainly seems to have exposed itself to considerable risk by wink-wink nudge-nudge allowing this behavior to occur.

I would not believe for a second that administrators/staff didn't know this was occurring (and that's hardly an excuse).

That said -- I don't think the kid should have been prosecuted. A better tack I think would have been to prosecute the Administrators who didn't stop the culture. Maybe that will happen soon in the inevitable Civil Suit. What is St Paul's endowment, I wonder. (Too lazy to look it up ;) )

khesanh0802 said...

@ Maybee You are groping. Read the coverage. No one is saying that things like this don't happen all the time. Look at the hurrah on college campuses. The girl felt she had been sexually assaulted, had the courage to make the charges public and to take the stand to testify. The jury agreed with the girl for the most part. Labrie is, as he said himself, a "sleaze bag".

Martha said...

Labrie was convicted because at the time of the incident he was 18 years old and the female student was 15 years old. That makes the girl a minor in the eyes of the law and Labrie at 18 an adult. Labrie planned this encounter for months and he planned to have sex with that particular girl. Labrie targeted that particular 15 year old because she was a freshman and he believed her to be a virgin and in the sick game of Senior Salute those factors made having intercouse with that particular student particularly valuable. Unfortunately for Labrie sex with a 15 year old is also a misdemeanor in New Hampshire.

Big Mike said...

@Althouse, wonderful addendum! Thanks for succinctly summarizing the key point about Flanagan, that he didn't get crazy all by himself.

MayBee said...

khesanh0802 said...
@ Maybee You are groping.


Thank you

khesanh0802 said...

@Maybee The JURY said Labrie committed sexual crimes. That's the way our judicial system works. Labrie had his day in court, which is a good thing. He was convicted as follows: "Owen Labrie, now 19, was convicted of three charges of misdemeanor sexual assault of a female classmate in May 2014. He was also found guilty of one felony charge of using a computer to solicit the girl and a misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child."

The most obvious evidence is that Labrie's dna - not sperm - was found in the girl's underpants. I don't think she stole into his room and put it there.

khesanh0802 said...

@ Maybee I should have remembered that trying to have a discussion with you was a waste of time and energy. My bad.

MayBee said...

khesananh- again, thank you.

I understand he was convicted. I do not agree with the conviction. So the argument that he was convicted doesn't really help me in my appreciation for the conviction.

I don't believe justice is served when a school mate is convicted of a crime for sending emails to a girl arguably in his peer group. I don't believe that's what statutory rape crimes should be about. I don't believe it was proven Laurie understood what this girl wanted. I don't think her own testimony made that clear. And the forensic evidence wasn't there for rape, which is why they didn't get that conviction.

But I do think this case is a step toward criminalizing normal behavior. Good behavior? No. Behavior I'd want my kids to engage in? No. But that shouldn't make it criminal.

I don't really remember having any dispute with you in the past. I don't feel I'm being uncivil to you.

MayBee said...

Labrie. Stupid autocorrect

kcom said...

Yeah, what was that about, khesanh?

boycat said...

If Flanagan was 18 instead of 41 years old when he decided to do what he did, the comparison might be apt. Otherwise not.

Ann Althouse said...

"If Flanagan was 18 instead of 41 years old when he decided to do what he did, the comparison might be apt. Otherwise not."

Depends on how unintelligent and mentally ill he was. I suspect that he had a weak mind, but that he was trying to figure things out and that he thought he did. Without the input from the culture, he could not have ended up with the conclusions he reached. That's my hypothesis.

MayBee said...

Without the input from the culture, he could not have ended up with the conclusions he reached. That's my hypothesis.

I think that's true, but our culture doesn't enforce the idea that gunning down people on the street is the right thing to do.

campy said...

"Tell me what you see in it that makes it an obvious conviction of a sex crime."

An accused male.

Birkel said...

Romeo and Juliet laws are the right answer.

madAsHell said...

He boinked her on the school grounds!?
All those over-payed administrators will be looking for new jobs.

I believe Flanagan targeted Alison Parker because his twisted mind construed that she took his job.

AReasonableMan said...

Big Mike said...
he didn't get crazy all by himself.


Something that could be said about a lot of people.


The Godfather said...

The thing that bothers me is that the most serious crime of which he was convicted -- the only felony -- and which will put him on the sex offender registry for life -- is that he communicated with the girl via computer. I think that's weird.

Snark said...

When I was 15 turning 16 my perfectly normal boyfriend was 23. I'm not sure how it made sense at the time, but it did.

AReasonableMan said...

Snark said...
I'm not sure how it made sense at the time, but it did.


Sure you do, the 16 year old boys you knew at the time were all idiots. I feel considerable sympathy for young women, given their choice in men of their own age.

RecChief said...

Flanagan may be held responsible for his crimes, but all caucasian Americans are held responsible for Dylan Roof's. Oh, and a flag.

Big Mike said...

Something that could be said about a lot of people.

You perhaps most of all.

(This is called a hanging curve, right over the center of the plate.)

AReasonableMan said...

Only in your mind, but maybe you could vote on it.

Birches said...

If this "Senior Slaying" was as well known and widely practiced as the media reports it is, then wouldn't other upperclassmen girls warn the others?

Michael K said...

"When I was 15 turning 16 my perfectly normal boyfriend was 23. I'm not sure how it made sense at the time, but it did."

When I was in college in the middle 50s, there was a group of girls from a private high school in Los Angeles who made a great thing of dating fraternity college guys. The girls, for the time, made themselves look more mature and sexy and talked about sexual things. I was a bit nerdy so I was never approached but I thought the guys who responded to this were fools. Of course, in those days the sex was not nearly as common or as open.

Anonymous said...

With regard to the age of consent only, the human body runs off a different clock than the legal system. At the ages of 18 and 15, it's quite possible both were biologically ready for sex, it's just that locally the law sets a higher age. In countries with different cultures, that pairing would be eligible to marry.

As with any other law concerning things that are illegal only because of age, cultural factors do influence whether people follow those prohibitions. Drinking, while it's technically illegal under age 21, is a law frequently broken because culturally, underage drinking is generally accepted. I'm not sure what we expect teens to do when sex is widely promoted in the culture and now taught to kids in school who are underage. We had teachers explaining the details as early as 5th grade (ages 10-11), displaying all the various contraceptive devices by 9th grade (ages 14-15), and also showing video of coitus that likely only evaded being classified as porn with the camera being inside the vagina and not being terribly hi-def. And that was in the 1990s, I have no idea what is being done now.

JCC said...

@ MayBee -

Neither your opinion (re: the laws) nor others, including mine, matters. The law says that 18 year old males are adults, and they are assumed to exert undue influence over freshman 15 year old girls (the genders in this case) and thus cannot have intercourse with same. The 18 year old in this case broke an existing law, and further, did so not in the throes of passion - overcome by beauty or sex appeal or pheromones - during some heated moment, but rather in a calculated and deliberate, extended seduction because the girl was a young virgin, a score, bonus points. That the two are not in the same peer group is exactly the thrust (sorry) of the law, and the uncertainty of what the girl wanted was really what defined the defendant's violation, who created the scenario and took advantage of the susceptibility of the underage student.

It's not like the statutory rape laws (and the like) are a cypher or little known. Proceed at your own risk. Arguing the statutes may be unfair is like arguing against a speeding ticket by claiming the posted limit is too low. It doesn't matter.

I was a little surprised at the felony conviction for the use of a computer. The misdemeanor charges seem appropriate.

And the defendant really was a little sh*t. I bet the girl's father wanted to beat him. Maybe slap his parents around too, for raising such an obnoxious kid.

cubanbob said...

A 15 year old girl is adult enough to be able to get an abortion all on her own but isn't adult enough to consensually engage in sex and this is supposed to make sense?

khesanh0802 said...

@ JCC Thank you for having the patience to explain the situation to Maybee.

JCC said...

Well, I get what she's saying. Some 15 year olds don't need protecting, and some 18 year olds do. But until there's a way to write a law which creates objective, bright line standards while considering subjectives like relative maturity of teenagers, it will fall to those affected by the law to simply observe it, like it or not, or suffer sanctions for failing to do so.

Some people hold their liquor better than others, but DUI BA standards are deliberately low. Too bad if you're an professional drinker caught up in the net. I have no sympathy. Same thing here.

MayBee said...

Blogger khesanh0802 said...
@ JCC Thank you for having the patience to explain the situation to Maybee.


Thanks once again. But I did not need the situation explained to me. I understand the "situation".

Guildofcannonballs said...

"Thirteen-year-old Brook Schrumpf was in the truck with her 18-year-old boyfriend when he struck 4-year-old Damajae on Monday."

http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2015/08/25/winona-pd-teen-beaten-by-group-after-hitting-boy-with-truck/

averagejoe said...

MayBee said...
...our culture doesn't enforce the idea that gunning down people on the street is the right thing to do.

8/29/15, 9:58 AM

Your culture doesn't, maybe. But the culture that influenced Vester Flanagan does. #StraightOuttaCompton

EMD said...

Why would Vester Flanagan own a white iPhone? Was he a self-hating racist?