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Professor likens Owen Labrie’s struggles to Joan of Arc’s

Owen Labrie testified during his trial in August 2015.Charles Krupa/Associated Press/file

A professor told Owen Labrie that his conviction for sexually assaulting an underage fellow prep school student might be God’s way of calling him to higher pursuits, according to a letter that also compares his tribulations to those of Joan of Arc.

The letter was included in a court filing supporting Labrie’s challenge of a New Hampshire court’s decision to revoke his bail while he appeals his conviction.

Labrie was found guilty last year of sexually assaulting the girl, then 15, while he was a senior at St. Paul’s School in Concord. His bail was revoked for violating his court-imposed curfew, and Labrie was sent to jail to begin serving a one-year sentence.

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The letter, filed to support Labrie’s argument that he missed curfew to conduct educational research, does not identify the professor or the institution where Labrie was studying, though it says he had to travel to Boston to meet with educators to perform the work. The letter sheds light on Labrie’s academic and spiritual pursuits.

“It’s so amazing to me how much God loves you — because God doesn’t usually bother to wizen [sic] up ordinary kids who get involved in teenage sex play,” the professor wrote. “He just lets them gradually outgrow it.”

A jury acquitted Labrie in August of raping the girl in May 2014, but found him guilty of having sex with the girl, who was below the legal age of consent. The jury also found Labrie guilty of using computer services to lure a minor, a felony.

Prosecutors said Labrie targeted the freshman girl as part of a tradition called “Senior Salute,” in which seniors look to have sexual encounters with younger students.

According to the professor’s letter, Labrie was instructed to write a lengthy thesis on Simone Weil , a French philosopher who wrote about suffering and martyrdom.

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The professor suggested he submit his writing about Weil to Oxford University for admission into its PhD program.

The professor told Labrie he should think of his “legal experiences and personal suffering” as a gift from God.

The letter noted a “strange background resonance: that you, Simone Weil, and Joan of Arc, have all been, as young people, granted the grace of suffering.”

In Labrie’s appeal, his lawyer said the judge should have allowed him to remain free and failed to consider that Labrie would have been able to comply with a less-restrictive curfew.


Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @andyrosen.