Rape Case Puts Focus on Culture of Elite St. Paul’s School

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UPDATE: Day 2 trial news here

St. Paul’s School, an elite prep school affiliated with the Episcopal Church is in the news for its culture of rape of girls and young women. A practice called “the senior salute” encourages young men to pursue sexual conquest as part of the culture of the school.

New York Times:

The case has already raised uncomfortable questions about the connection between privilege and sexual assault, and between sexual assault in American colleges and in high schools. …

The administration at St. Paul’s School has said little about the case. “Allegations about our culture are not emblematic of our school or our values, our rules, or the people that represent our student body, alumni, faculty and staff,” said a statement posted Monday to the school’s website. School officials declined requests for further comment.

Mr. Labrie, however, did not appear to be a troubled student. When the alleged rape occurred, on May 30, 2014, he was a senior who had already been accepted at Harvard, where he planned to study theology. He was a prefect too, given extra responsibility for helping younger students. Prosecutors said he also relished the gamesmanship of the St. Paul’s Senior Salute. According to an affidavit reviewed by The Associated Press, Mr. Labrie told the police that he was “trying to be No. 1 in the sexual scoring at St. Paul’s School.”

Washington Post:

…Before they graduate, senior men at St. Paul’s competed to sleep with as many younger students as possible. “Score” was kept in permanent marker on a wall behind the washing machines, then, after the school kept painting over it, in an online forum.

Labrie was “trying to be number one,” he acknowledged to police.

This week, Labrie will stand trial for several felonies, including sexual assault and use of a computer to lure the girl to him, the Concord Monitor reported. But the case is also expected to cast a harsh light on the campus culture at St. Paul’s, where, according to an affidavit cited by the Monitor, administrators have been combating a culture of “sexual scoring.”

 


 

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Jay Croft
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Jay Croft

Chuck, you are not a "nobody priest with no absolutely no political clout."

By virtue of your baptism and ordination you are somebody. You've already demonstrated it by posting here.

God doesn't make nobodies. No way.

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Chuck Messer
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The actions and climate of this particular "Episcopal" school are of concern, of course. But what burns me up is that there has not been one purple shirt to get in front of a camera and state with conviction that these actions and this climate is not of Jesus. The world watches. The Kingdom is chopped away bit by bit when we do nothing or spin the narrative that not only hampers justice but brings shame on our Lord's body. I am a nobody priest with no absolutely no political clout, so I hope that this is recieved in the love in which I write it. God help the bishop who doesn't go to bat for my family if something like this happens to one of my children.

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Susan Yarborough
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Susan Yarborough

I agree completely with Chuck Messer. Thank you for speaking out.

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Susan Yarborough
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Susan Yarborough

As a former college writing instructor in a town with several religion-based day schools, the St. Paul's story is a familiar one, and one common in public schools as well. More than one female student has told me about such practices. My point: We as a church and a society do a terrible job at sex education and with sexuality in general. That squeamishness does nothing to effectively counter our hyper-sexualized popular culture. Our church which has fought the same-sex and gender wars so openly, should be leading the way in crafting a Christian approach to sexuality that is more realistic, nuanced, and responsible than the fear-based, "abstinence-only," and inadequate approach popular with "conservative" denominations. Steve White's letter is a beautiful effort to address oppressive sexual games and instill a responsible Christian attitude toward sex from specifically Episcopalian point of view. The views expressed in his letter would be a good starting point for such a program.

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John Donnelly
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John Donnelly

I have only a comment on the criticism of Episcopal boarding schools as places for wealthy socialites to get rid of parental responsibilities. My son went to a very different Episcopal school ( applied at St Paul's ) because he desparately needed a different academic and social context than our high-octane public school provided . I could afford the absurdly high tuition, and I'm glad I did. Many of these schools do great work, and I am appalled that critics bash these schools with no knowledge of each one's specific mission. To the point of this post: adolescents do vicious and stupid stuff, and perhaps the school is attempting to do its best to reform this horrible behavior . I'll hope so.

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Paul Holloway
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Paul Holloway

Public school is also an option.

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