crime and punishment

Sex Offender Owen Labrie’s Professor Compared Him to Joan of Arc

Owen Labrie
Owen Labrie Photo: Jim Cole/AP

Last year, Owen Labrie — who was accused of raping a 15-year-old while he was a senior and she was a freshman at St. Paul’s School — was found not guilty of the alleged felony sexual assault. He was, however, convicted of misdemeanor sexual assault charges for being involved with a minor, as well as felony computer charges, and was sentenced to a year in jail. Ever since, he has broken his court-ordered curfew time, thus resulting in his bail being revoked. In April, he asked for a new trial.

On Friday, his lawyers went to the New Hampshire Supreme Court to argue against his bail revocation. Defense attorney Jaye Rancourt included a letter from one of Labrie’s professors in her brief, and it certainly takes enabling to a new level, by comparing Labrie to Joan of Arc and Simone Weil and chalking up the whole sexual assault thing as a lesson from God. From the letter:

“So, Owen, here you are now, twenty years old and having been put through (because of the extraordinary and generous providence of God) extreme affliction and malheur. And this is why you must continuously seek to understand why God has done this to you, and ask what His judgment is upon your past thoughts and behavior and His intentions for your future vocation.”

“It’s so amazing to me how much God loves you — because God doesn’t usually bother to wizen up ordinary kids who get involved in teen-age sex play. He just lets them gradually outgrow it. But, obviously, God intends something more from you than a ‘staged normal life.’ God intends that you (like Joan of Arc and Simone Weil) take on a higher task. So God has afflicted you with the enormous suffering that you have had to bear (and that you will always have to bear). This suffering is your condemnation (better, your consecration!) to a higher calling.[Emphasis the professor’s.]

Labrie was convicted of endangering the welfare of a child and penetration of a minor, yet managed to escape the felony rape charge he was accused of. Joan of Arc was a teenage girl burned at the stake after leading the French people to a victory in the Hundred Years’ War, after answering what she believed was a calling from God. The analogy seems a little thin. 

Sex Offender Owen Labrie Compared to Joan of Arc