People, what is up? How is it possible that former Fox News morning show anchor Gretchen Carlson can receive $20 million and a public apology from one of America’s most successful and influential media companies, while the same day two New Hampshire female defense attorneys go on national television to smear, shame and degrade a teenage boarding school sexual assault victim?
How does a father of two college-student daughters come to terms with this enormous contradiction?
Gretchen Carlson, an accomplished professional adult television broadcaster sued her employer/boss Roger Ailes for ongoing on-the-job verbal sexual harassment, earlier this summer. She never alleged any improper physical contact from Ailes. Chessy Prout, who until a week ago, was the anonymous accuser/victim of very prestigious St. Paul’s prep school senior Owen Labrie, was a 15 yr. old freshman at the time. She was lured by the BMOC into a one-time encounter the day before graduation weekend in 2014.
Labrie gave Prout a Senior Salute, an extremely intimate physical assault in the mechanical closet of a campus classroom building, which Prout tried desperately and unsuccessfully to fend off. Labrie then bragged to several friends of his “score” with Prout.
A very courageous Chessy Prout, flanked on both sides by her family, appeared on The Today Show last week to publicly reveal her own trauma of the assault and subsequent trial. I watched Chessy’s father and wondered just how he was able to maintain his composure? His young daughter had found the strength to re-script her role from victim to empowered survivor in her first ever national television interview. I don’t ever want to imagine trading places with the Prout family, but am very proud of their grit and tenacity.
Yet, where is the public apology from St. Paul’s School? Or from Owen Labrie, his father and mother? What about the very accomplished and successful members of St. Paul’s School board of trustees?
The ghastly details of what Owen Labrie did – how an 18 yr. old senior and top student, targeted and lured Chessy into the so-called Senior Salute – go way beyond verbal sexual harassment experienced by Carlson. Roger Ailes would be on trial for felony rape if he had engaged in the behavior Owen Labrie inflicted on Prout. Yet Labrie now has two female defense attorneys petitioning the New Hampshire Supreme Court to overturn his conviction and retry the case again on the basis of ineffective counsel.
The two NH attorneys, Jaye Rancourt who served on Labrie’s defense team and Robin Melone, had the temerity in Tuesday’s CBS This Morning appearance to say, “We were troubled that when she’s (Prout) interviewed and she makes statements purporting to know what the jury was thinking, that that statement goes unchallenged in the media and that then it’s picked up that he’s a rapist and he’s a predator and he’s this horrible person when the facts are he was found innocent of that conduct.”
Except, Labrie was not found innocent, he was found guilty of 3 counts of sexual assault on a child and 1 felony count of using the internet to lure her into his trap. According to the Boston.com story, “Because the age difference between Labrie and the girl was less than four years, he was charged with misdemeanor sexual assault, not felony statutory rape.” In sentencing Labrie, Merrimack Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler labeled Labrie, “a very good liar.”
Speaking of very good liars, CBS This Morning anchors Norah O’Donnell, Charlie Rose and Gayle King seemingly very ill prepared for this week’s interview, failed to challenge attorneys Rancourt and Melone on their misrepresentations and outright lies. Rancourt has twice been ruled “disqualified” from further representation of Labrie, yet continued to on the CBS This Morning show.
While that is distressing, more disturbing is the role these women are freely willing to play in seeking to re-try the case and put teenage victim Prout through the whole trauma and ordeal of public trial again. I don’t want to believe the worst about lawyers, but their choices and lies for their client in this case make that very difficult to ignore.
By the way, in addition to Rancourt on Labrie’s original defense team, was Boston-based lead attorney J.W. Carney who recently defended mobster James “Whitey” Bulger. Hey, when you’re going after a 15 yr. old sexual assault victim, you hire the toughest SOB you can find.
Readers might wonder how defendant Labrie’s divorced working-class parents have been able to afford all this legal talent to defend their predator-son? Easy, just put up a defense fundraising website and get St. Paul’s School wealthy alumni to contribute. Wow, not how 21st Century Fox handled morning show anchor Carlson’s lawsuit. They showed her the money!