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Public weighs in on Labrie verdict

No winners seen in troubling case

Owen Labrie left Merrimack Superior Court with his attorney, Jay Carney, on Friday.
Owen Labrie left Merrimack Superior Court with his attorney, Jay Carney, on Friday. Geoff Forester/The Concord Monitor via AP

Some wanted him to serve time in prison. Others said he’d suffered enough.

The verdict in the high-profile case of Owen Labrie, who was charged with raping a 15-year-old fellow student at the elite St. Paul’s School in May of last year, drew a range of reactions Friday evening in the Boston area.

Labrie, 19, was found guilty in a Concord, N.H., court of misdemeanor sexual assault against the girl, who was a freshman when he was a senior at the school. He was acquitted of felony rape charges.

Labrie sought the girl out as part of the “senior salute,” a school tradition in which senior boys sought out girls for encounters before graduation that, according to testimony, could include sex.

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Adam Fass, 30, a Florida man visiting relatives in Boston, said he didn’t think Labrie should be punished further.

“I think he’s already not been able to go to Harvard. His face has been plastered on TV, and he’s been through a huge mess. I think that’s more than enough punishment,” said Fass.

Labrie, whose trial drew national coverage, had seen his acceptance to Harvard University rescinded.

Alex MacFadyen, a 31-year-old Boston resident, said, “I think, in general, I’m happy to see [a case] like this come to light, because I think this kind of thing happens too much, and people keep it hush-hush.”

MacFadyen added, “Ultimately, I think probation, counseling and close oversight of his behavior for many years would be a strict punishment. Whether or not he should be put in prison for [many years] — I don’t think so.”

MacFadyen, who said he went to boarding school himself, said that in the end, he agreed with the jury.

“There’s a certain kind of attitude when you’re a young male that it’s more of a conquest. They’re just not aware of how to respect and treat women,” he said.

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Jen, a 51-year-old woman from Boston who did not want to give her last name, said, “They were just two young immature kids who both used poor judgment. I think it’s a tragedy either way. They’re both going to be scarred for life.”

Margery Resnick, 70, of Brookline said she thought Labrie would be convicted of the more serious charges. “It’s hard to believe they didn’t convict,” she said, adding that she believed Labrie should serve at least some time behind bars.

But part of the onus for this tragedy is on St. Paul’s School, she said during an interview on Harvard Street in Brookline.

“The school’s tradition of the ‘senior salute’ should have been stopped,” said Resnick. “It’s a blot on St. Paul’s that it wasn’t.”

School officials say they learned of the tradition in the spring of 2013. Even if that is true, Resnick said, the “senior salute” should have been squashed two years ago.

Cliff Bouvier, 54, of North Attleboro, said he was glad Labrie was convicted of at least some of the charges.

“I didn’t want him to walk,” said Bouvier, who was in Brookline. “He should serve the full 11 years. What he did was reprehensible.”

“I have nieces and nephews,” he said. “It would really bother me if my niece got caught up in something like this.”

Reports of the “senior salute” tradition worried him, said Bouvier. “It paints a really bad picture of who the future of America is,” he said.

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Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau
@globe.com
. Follow him on Twitter @mrochele. Catherine Cloutier can be reached at catherine.cloutier@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @cmcloutier.