The teenager who was sexually assaulted in 2014 by an older student at their elite New Hampshire prep school has come out to publicly tell her side of the story for the first time.
Chessy Prout appeared on The Today Show Tuesday to talk about the incident at the center of a trial that drew national attention last year. Prout, a 15-year-old freshman at St. Paul's school at the time, testified for three days about how Owen Labrie, a prefect and senior on his way to Harvard, raped her in a closet. Labrie, who was 18 at the time of the incident, was found guilty of three counts of misdemeanor sexual assault, as well as felony illegal use of computer services and a misdemeanor of endangering the welfare of a child. He was acquitted of felony rape charges, however.
"They said that they didn't believe that he did it knowingly, and that frustrated me a lot because he definitely did do it knowingly," Prout told Today's Savannah Guthrie. "And the fact that he was still able to pull the wool over a group of people's eyes bothered me a lot and just disgusted me in some way."
The case shed light on the prestigious prep school's tradition known as "Senior Salute," a game in which seniors try to hook up with as many underclassmen as they can before graduation.
"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," Prout said.
Now 17 and preparing to begin her senior year at a new school, Prout plans to work with Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment, a nonprofit focused on supporting survivors of sexual assault. Her family is also pursuing a lawsuit against St. Paul's, which has denied maintaining a culture of sexual assault and had recently sought to force Prout to use her name if she wanted to pursue a civil case that damaged its reputation. (The school also told Today about new preventive measures like bringing in experts on consent to educate the student body.)
"I hope he learns. I hope he gets help," Prout said of Labrie. "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."