I Have the Right To: A High School Survivor's Story of Sexual Assault, Justice, and Hope

On May 30, 2014, at the elite St. Paul's prep school in Concord, N.H., 17-year-old Owen Labrie brought 15-year-old classmate Chessy Prout to the roof of one of the school's buildings as part of a "tradition" called the "Senior Salute." "The Senior Salute was a well-known ritual at St. Paul's, where sixth formers [seniors] tried to make out with as many younger girls as possible before graduation."

Chessy initially (and repeatedly) rejected the senior's invites. But when a male friend pushed her to accept--"Oh, he's a nice guy.... Don't be a bitch"--Chessy relented. "Truth be told," she writes in I Have the Right To, "I was flattered that one of the most popular boys thought I was special." Trusting her friend and thinking herself more than capable of handling "golden boy" and teacher's favorite Owen, Chessy agreed to meet him. That evening, Owen Labrie raped Chessy.

After days of disgust, depression, fear and confusion, Chessy told an adult at the school what had happened. What followed was a trial that pitted Chessy's family against the school and received national coverage that, because of her age, referred to Chessy only as a "15-year-old freshman." In August 2016, after Labrie was acquitted on three counts of felony sexual assault and convicted on three counts of misdemeanor sexual assault, Chessy broke her anonymity and came forward as the St. Paul's School assault survivor. I Have the Right To is now-19-year-old Chessy's direct and candid account of her life leading up to the assault, the assault itself and every painful step afterward. The memoir is both heartbreaking and hopeful, an honest and frank testimony; it is an important (if difficult) read that acts as both an eye-opener and a call to action. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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