A year after her sexual assault at St. Paul's School made headlines, Chessy Prout says she's tired of hiding. "I want everyone to know that I am not afraid or ashamed anymore, and I never should have been,'' she tells Today of the May 2014 assault. Prout was just 15 when she was sexually assaulted at the prestigious New Hampshire school while on a date with senior Owen Labrie, who is out on bail while appealing his conviction of misdemeanor sexual assault. Prout says she was "disgusted" that Labrie—acquitted of felony sexual assault charges—convinced a jury that he didn't knowingly rape her "because he definitely did do it knowingly," but says she hopes he learns from his crime. "Because if he doesn't learn, he will do it to another young woman."
Prout—who also described having panic attacks and hiding in her closet, per the AP—has teamed up with nonprofit Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment and says she wants to encourage "other people to feel empowered and just strong enough to be able to say, 'I have the right to my body. I have the right to say no.''' In an effort to bring about change, she's also filed a civil case against St. Paul's, which accused her of attacking the school "from behind a cloak of anonymity" and filed a request that her identity be released. The school denies "a culture or tradition of sexual assault" existed there but says Prout's case has already "brought about positive changes," including new faculty training and updates to security systems. (Read Prout's testimony here.)