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Prep school sex assault victim refuses to be ashamed

Seventeen-year-old Chessy Prout says she wants to help other victims of assault know that they 'don't need to be ashamed either.'

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The parents of Owen Labrie's teenage victim have filed a lawsuit against the elite St. Paul's School. The suit accuses the school of 'fostering, permitting and condoning a tradition of ritualized statutory rape,' which students call the 'Senior Salute,' and for failing to meet its basic duty of protecting their daughter. Owen Labrie was convicted on three charges of misdemeanor sexual assault and one felony charge. A judge sentenced Labrie to a year in jail and probation. He is out on bail pending an appeal. In the lawsuit, the victim's parent allege that in the days leading up to commencement top St. Paul's officials 'received but failed to act upon specific warnings regarding senior men targeting underage girls.'

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A teen who was raped during a game of sexual conquest at a prestigious New Hampshire prep school said Tuesday in her first public comments that she is no longer ashamed or afraid and she hopes to be a voice for others.

Chessy Prout spoke in an interview on NBC's "Today" show about what happened to her at St. Paul's School in 2014 when she was a 15-year-old freshman.

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"It's been two years now since the whole ordeal, and I feel ready to stand up and own what happened to me and make sure other people, other girls and boys, don't need to be ashamed, either," said Prout, now 17 and about to start her senior year at a different school.

The Associated Press normally does not identify victims of sexual assault, but Prout has now spoken publicly about the case.

Former St. Paul's student Owen Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, was arrested in 2014, days after graduating from the Concord school. Prosecutors alleged he assaulted the girl as part of a competition known as the Senior Salute in which some seniors sought to have sex with underclassman.

The case provided a "window into the type of language that proliferated among some young men at St. Paul’s School – various slang words for sexual behavior and pulling 'every trick in the book' in pursuit of it," Stacy Teicher Khadaroo reported for The Christian Science Monitor during the trial:

The very normalcy of such language needs to be interrupted, advocates for sexual assault prevention say. The callous and objectifying attitudes that those words suggest create a climate that condones sexual violence, they say.

Labrie was convicted last year of misdemeanor sex assault charges and a felony charge of using a computer to lure the student. He was acquitted on three counts of felony sexual assault.

Labrie was sentenced to a year in jail, but he remains free pending appeal.

Prout's parents have sued the school, arguing it should have done more to protect their daughter. The school has denied it could have prevented the assault, but it has since taken steps to "prevent and reduce risky adolescent behavior."

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In the interview, Prout said she sometimes gets panic attacks and hides in her closet and rocks on the floor. She wants to use the experience to help others.

"I want everyone to know that I am not afraid or ashamed anymore, and I never should have been," she said.


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