Chessy Prout

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Chessy Prout is an activist, author, and public speaker. She advocates for the rights of rape victims and travels around the country to speak about the importance of consent education in K–12 schools.

She is also the author of I Have the Right To: A High School Survivor's Story of Sexual Assault, Justice, and Hope. [9]

Chessy is an alumna of St. Paul's School .

Sexual Assault

In May 2014, Chessy was sexually assaulted by Owen Labrie a star athlete at St. Paul's School, an elite private school in Concord, New Hampshire. [2]

In the trial that ended in August 2015, Owen Labrie, a senior, was cleared of felony sexual assault charges but convicted of misdemeanor charges, including having sex with someone below the age of consent. [2]

After being sexually assaulted and returning to the school after her trial, all her male friends stopped talking to her and she felt ostracized. As a result, she transferred to another school. [2]

The case put a spotlight on the culture of secret rites and sexual conquest at St. Paul’s, including the "senior salute," in which older students tried to engage younger ones in intimate acts: kissing, touching or more. The trial included details about the tradition in which a key to the mechanical room on campus was passed around by senior classmates. [2]

Prosecutors said Mr. Labrie had drawn up a list of potential girls for his senior salute, and according to an affidavit, he told the police that he was "trying to be No. 1 in the sexual scoring at St. Paul’s School." [2]

Chessy felt it was unjust that the jurors did not convict Owen Labrie of felony sexual assault charges and that the jury believed that he did not know what he was doing. [2]

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,” she 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.

Mr. Labrie, now 20, was sentenced to a year in prison and had to register as a sex offender in New Hampshire, but he was freed on $15,000 bail pending his appeal, during which he was ordered to comply with a 5 p.m. curfew at his mother’s home in Vermont. [2]

Lawsuit against St. Paul's School

In June 2016, the Prouts filed a civil lawsuit against the school, arguing that it failed to protect children entrusted to its care. [3]

On August 15, 2016, attorneys for St. Paul's School claimed that Chessy's family was attacking the school "from behind a cloak of anonymity," and requested her identity to be publicly released. [3]

"Unfortunately, it seems like the school's reputation became more important than supporting our daughter,'' Prout's mother, Susan, said. [3]

"There was just no recognition that I had gone through something like this,'' Chessy said. "And that is one of the reasons why we're pushing for change." [3]

St. Paul's School issued the following statement to the Today Show: [3]

As was the case when the survivor was a student here and subsequently, the School admires her courage and condemns unkind behavior toward her. We feel deeply for her and her family. We have always placed the safety and well-being of our students first and are confident that the environment and culture of the school have supported that. We categorically deny that there ever existed at the School a culture or tradition of sexual assault. However, there’s no denying the survivor’s experience caused us to look anew at the culture and environment. This fresh look has brought about positive changes at the School.

Activism

On August 30, 2016 Chessy did interview with the Today Show about her experience as a rape survivor and activist. The interview was her first ever, and she spoke about how she was raped at age 15 by star student athlete, Owen Labrie at St. Paul's School, an elite private school in Concord, New Hampshire. [3]

In the interview, Chessy explained why she spoke out. [4]

I want everyone to know that I am not afraid or ashamed anymore, and I never should have been. It’s been two years now since the whole ordeal, and I feel ready to stand up and own what happened to me and make sure other people, other girls and boys, don’t need to be ashamed, either.

Chessy Prout works with the non-profit Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment (PAVE) organization, which "works both to shatter the silence and prevent sexual violence through social advocacy, education and survivor support." PAVE is launching a new campaign called, #IHaveTheRightTo, on Tuesday after her interview with the Today Show. [3]

#IHaveTheRightTo

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I Have the Right to (book cover)

In August 2016 Chessy Prout launched the #IHaveTheRightTo initiative with the organization PAVE. [9] She started as a social media campaign called #IHaveTheRightTo. She was inspired by her little sister to come up with the title of the movement after coming on the Today show for the first time. It eventually evolved into a new organizations that aims to create a safe place where survivors and family members can find support and advocacy for their rights. [📁]

Since then, she has written a book entitled, I Have the Right To: A High School Survivor's Story of Sexual Assault, Justice, and Hope .[9] It was written with Jenn Abelson, a reporter for The Boston Globe . [9]

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