Argued: September 13, 2018
J. MacDonald, attorney general (Sean R. Locke, assistant
attorney general, on the brief and orally), for the State.
Brennan, Lenehan, Iacopinio & Hickey, of Manchester (Jaye
L. Rancourt and Jenna M. Bergeron on the brief, and Ms.
Rancourt orally), for the defendant.
defendant, Owen Labrie, appeals his convictions following a
jury trial in the Superior Court (Smukler, J.) on
three counts of sexual assault, see RSA 632-A:4,
I(c) (2016), one count of endangering the welfare of a child,
see RSA 639:3, I (2016), and one count of using
computer services for a prohibited purpose, see RSA
649-B:4, I(a) (2016). On appeal, the defendant challenges:
(1) the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction
under RSA 649-B:4, I(a); (2) the trial court's decision
not to allow certain cross-examination by the defendant of a
State's witness; and (3) the trial court's failure to
sua sponte correct statements made by the prosecutor
in closing argument. We affirm.
jury could have found the following facts. In early 2014,
the defendant was 18 years old and a senior at St. Paul's
School (SPS), a private coeducational boarding school in
Concord. The defendant was a prefect at SPS, meaning that he
served as a leader, as well as a liaison between the students
and the faculty, in his dormitory. As a prefect, the
defendant had received training on the school's sexual
intimacy policy, which included information regarding the New
Hampshire laws concerning statutory rape. At SPS, there was a
prominent annual springtime tradition known by the students
as the "senior salute," which involved a senior
sending a note (or a senior salute) to a younger student on
campus, inviting that younger student to spend time with the
senior before he or she graduated. Often, these notes had
sexual connotations. Although a senior salute could be an
invitation simply to meet up with someone on campus, it was
widely understood among SPS students that physical contact,
at least in the form of a kiss, was almost always expected.
It was not unusual for the invitation to imply more advanced
sexual contact as well, including sexual intercourse.
defendant was an active participant in the senior salute
tradition during his final year at SPS. On March 23, 2014,
the defendant sent the following e-mail to a friend, another
male senior at SPS, with the subject line, "The coming
months of slaypril and slay": "If you ever find
yourself without a tether, enjoy it while you have it.
Slaypril is approaching, and the list is starting to come
trial, "slaypril" and "slay," as used in
the subject line of the defendant's e-mail, were
explained as references to the months of April and May, which
marked the beginning of the senior salute season.
"Slay" was a word regularly used by students at SPS
to refer to sexual penetration, including digital
penetration, oral sex, and sexual intercourse. The
"list" referenced a compilation of potential female
SPS students whom the defendant and his friend, the recipient
of the e-mail, hoped to "spend time with" before
the end of the year. The defendant included the victim, a
15-year-old freshman at SPS, on the list. Unlike the other
names listed, he put the victim's name in all capital
in the year, on January 29, the defendant indicated to an SPS
alumnus via Facebook messenger that he wanted to
"pork" the victim "more than anyone,"
meaning that he desired to engage in sexual penetration with
her, to which his friend pointed out that the victim was
"really young" and inquired about her physical
maturity. On March 24, 2014, the same friend asked the
defendant through Facebook messenger whether he had
"slain" the victim yet. On May 8, the defendant
updated the list he compiled with his other friend and sent
it again via e-mail. The first line in the e-mail stated
"Still at large" and the updated list included,
once again, the victim's name in capital letters.
28, the defendant sent the victim the following senior salute
[W]hile the thought of my name in your inbox makes me blush
perhaps more than it should, there's something [I] want
to share with you and my evenings left to do it are growing
fewer by the evening. [T]here's a door here that's
been locked since before we were born, but in a moment of
divine intervention the night before last, its hinges swung
open in my hands. [I]f you want a definition of the word
bittersweet, think of me spending three years trying to open
it yet now only having three nights to remember the view. [I]
want to invite you to come with me, to climb these hidden
steps, and to bask in the nicest view [M]illville has ever
had to offer. [I] hope you're all right with heights.
[I]f you're not otherwise engaged, mull it over. [I] ask
only that you let me know soon--these days they're not
making time quite like they used to.
victim was familiar with the defendant prior to receiving
this e-mail. The defendant had dated her older sister, also a
senior at SPS, for about a week, and the victim and the
defendant saw each other often on campus. They had danced
together at school dances, and there were pictures of them
together on Facebook. The defendant's roommate testified
at trial that he was aware that the defendant "always
had a kind of crush" on the victim.
discussing the e-mail with her friends and her older sister,
the victim decided to decline the defendant's invitation
because she thought his "intentions were really, really
wrong." She viewed the e-mail as "a classic senior
salute letter" that the defendant had likely sent to
other people, and believed that the defendant wanted to
"kiss [her] or something." The victim had also
heard rumors around campus, confirmed by another SPS
freshman, that the defendant was involved in a competition
with other senior boys to see who could rack up
"numbers" and "senior salute the most
victim replied to the defendant, stating:
[W]hile the thought of your name in my inbox gives me a sense
of [déjà vu], ([my sister] and I are very close
sisters, ) and although I would like to climb those hidden
steps with you, I have to decline. I would like to climb
that, not the list of [freshmen] that have spent quality time
defendant responded to the victim's e-mail, stating:
[P]robably one of the sassier emails [I]'ve ever
received, my sweet lord. . . . [I]'m afraid that list is
slimmer than you might think. [P]retty much nonexistent this
term, even. [B]ut do as you please, [ma chère].
[I]'d have taken you either way.
defendant concluded his response with song lyrics in French,
which translate as "It's 2:45, . . . it's late
and all the boys are dancing for ...