CONCORD, N. H. — Facing withering cross-examination, the 16-year-old girl who reported being raped last year at St. Paul’s School burst into tears Thursday as the alleged attacker’s lawyer challenged her credibility by noting what he called discrepancies between her testimony and statements to police.
As defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr. peppered her with questions, the girl stood by her story and said she was still in shock when she spoke with investigators five days after the encounter.
“I was raped,” she gasped, her voice rising in anger. “I was violated in so many ways. Of course I was traumatized.”
The wrenching exchange occurred on her third day of testimony in the trial of St. Paul’s graduate Owen Labrie, 19, who is charged with three counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault. The case has called attention to the sexual culture at the elite school, particularly a tradition where seniors proposition younger students as graduation approaches.
From the start of the day, Carney pursued an aggressive cross-examination of the girl, who had described the attack under questioning by prosecutors on Wednesday. In her testimony, she has come across as a sensitive, sexually inexperienced ninth-grader who was overwhelmed by the advances of a popular senior.
The girl acknowledged under cross-examination Thursday that she lifted her arms above her head so Labrie could remove her shirt and also lifted her hips so he could take off her shorts during the encounter, in a secluded room on the Concord campus May 30, 2014.
She said she was scared by what was happening, but didn’t initially protest. The girl said she remained quiet even when Labrie bit her breast, causing her significant pain.
“You didn’t tell him to stop?” Carney asked.
“I didn’t,” she said through tears.
Reiterating earlier testimony, the girl said she resisted Labrie’s efforts to remove her bra and underwear, and as the encounter escalated twice told him “no.”
The defense has said that Labrie, who arranged to meet the girl in a year-end tradition called “senior salute,” and the girl had consensual sexual contact but not intercourse. Labrie is expected to testify in the trial, which is scheduled to continue Monday.
Carney has pointed to the girl’s cordial, lighthearted messages to Labrie after the alleged attack as evidence that their encounter was consensual, while the girl said she was hiding her anger to defuse the situation.
On Thursday, in one of the day’s most pointed exchanges, Carney asked whether that meant her messages were dishonest.
“Your words didn’t really mean what your words said?” he asked.
“That’s not lying,” she replied.
Carney asked how Labrie could be expected to understand that she was upset, given the light tone of her messages, which sometimes included “ha ha.”
“Given the fact that he didn’t understand I was saying no [during the reported attack], maybe he couldn’t understand,” she replied.
The girl did not immediately report that she had been assaulted, and told a school nurse that the sex had been consensual.
Carney questioned the girl about wanting to meet Labrie in secret, pointing to her remarks to police that she hid her face as she walked across campus to the science and math building where they met. He also noted that she told police she felt “excited to have attention from him” during their encounter, and that she sometimes laughed as it was going on.
When Carney asked whether it was “fair to say” that Labrie could not have known she was uncomfortable because she was laughing, she responded bluntly.
“That is not fair to say,” she said. “I am very sure about that.”
Labrie, dressed in a gray blazer with elbow patches, kept his head down through much of her testimony, occasionally taking notes on a legal pad.
Under questioning, the girl acknowledged she had told police she didn’t know “whether to be proud or happy” about what happened, and that immediately after the encounter she told a friend, “I think I just had sex with Owen Labrie.”
Carney continued to try to chip away at her credibility, and when she testified that “I try not to lie as much as possible,” Carney shot back.
“Sometimes, I guess you’re not successful,” he said, drawing some glares from her friends and family.
Once Carney completed his questioning, the girl stepped down from the stand in tears. Leaving the courtroom, she tearfully apologized to the prosecutor.
It is the Globe’s policy not to identify reported victims of sexual assault unless they decide otherwise.
The girl’s mother also took the stand, and recalled how her daughter had called her in tears a few days after the alleged attack.
“She was hysterical,” she said. The mother rushed to campus to be with her, and later took her to the room where she and Labrie met.
“She was overcome,” she told the court. “She couldn’t go in. She had a physical, visceral collapse. She sobbed hysterically. Her feet wouldn’t move.”
A close friend of the girl testified that she saw her just after her encounter with Labrie and noticed she seemed nervous. “To me, it seemed concerning,” she said.
She asked the friend to talk in private, and showed her the bite marks on her breast, the friend said.
Under cross examination, the friend said the girl had previously told her she thought Labrie was good-looking, and that “at most” she would perform oral sex on him.
“She wouldn’t let anything else happen,” the friend said.