Chessy Prout, St. Paul’s School Sexual Assault Survivor, Speaks on NBC’s TODAY
St. Paul’s School sexual assault survivor Chessy Prout revealed her identity Tuesday morning, speaking publicly about the incident for the first time on NBC’s TODAY.
Prout was 15 when she says she sexually assaulted by upperclassman Owen Labrie in May 2014, as part of the school’s so-called “Senior Salute” tradition, in which outgoing senior boys attempt to have sex with as many younger girls as they can before graduation.
“It’s been two years now since the whole ordeal, and I feel ready to stand up and own what happened to me,” Prout told Savannah Guthrie. “And I’m going to make sure other people, other girls, other boys, know that they can own it too, and that they don’t have to be ashamed either.
While he was acquitted of felony sexual assault charges, a judge convicted Labrie on three counts of misdemeanor sexual assault, felony illegal use of computer services, and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child. He is appealing the verdict.
“They said that they didn’t believe that he did it knowingly, and that frustrated me a lot because he definitely did do it knowingly,” Prout said. “And the fact that he was still able to pull the wool over a group of people’s eyes bothered me a lot and just disgusted me in some way.”
Prout’s parents have sued the Concord, New Hampshire school in federal court for failing to protect their daughter. St. Paul’s, in turn, filed a motion to block the Prout family from using pseudonyms in court, with its lawyers claiming they were using the media to attack the school’s reputation “from behind a cloak of anonymity.”
“If ever there would’ve been a family to work with, it would’ve been our family. We loved the school,” said Susan Prout, whose husband, Alex, is a St. Paul’s alum. “Unfortunately, it seems like the school’s reputation became more important than supporting our daughter.”
St. Paul’s told TODAY in a statement that they “categorically deny that there ever existed at the school a culture or tradition of sexual assault,” but admitted that Prout’s ordeal helped bring about positive change on campus.
“I hope he learns,” Prout said of Labrie. “I hope he gets help. And that’s all I can ever hope for in any sort of process like this. Because if he doesn’t learn, he will do it to another young woman.”