Charges: Man held girlfriend captive in St. Kate’s dorm room, beat and raped her for days
A Granite Falls man has been arrested and charged after he allegedly held his girlfriend captive in her dorm room at St. Catherine University and raped and assaulted her throughout the weekend.
According to a criminal complaint, 19-year-old Keanu Avery Labatte had come to the university on Thursday to visit his girlfriend of two months. The night he arrived, he saw texts, pictures and social media information that “infuriated him,” setting off a harrowing weekend of physical and sexual abuse.
The victim told investigators that Labatte first took her phone away. He then forced himself on the victim after she had told Labatte she did not want to have sex, the complaint states. Labatte became increasingly violent, strangling the victim until she was lightheaded and threatening to kill her and her family. He also insinuated he would hold a knife to her throat — an act he told the victim he had done to a past girlfriend.
The complaint describes the victim “feeling terrified to the point that she would just lay next to Labatte and not move for fear of what he would do to her.”
On Saturday, Labatte allegedly waterboarded the victim by laying her down in a bathtub, covered her face with a washcloth and dumped water over her. The victim also recalled Labatte threatening her with a knife, “looking for the right vein [on her arm] to cut deep enough so no one could save her.”
The woman finally escaped on Sunday morning when she convinced Labatte to let her get food from the dining hall. Labatte gave her phone back and told her to check in with him on Snapchat to ensure she wasn’t trying to get away, the complaint states. Instead, she went to campus security to report the assaults.
When police arrived to search the room, they found a folding knife in a backpack and a damp washcloth in the bathroom. The mattress had been moved to the floor, which the victim said Labatte had done so the bed wouldn’t squeak while he sexually assaulted her.
Labatte was still in the room at the time and was placed under arrest. He chose to plead the Fifth after officers read him his Miranda rights.
During a sexual assault examination, a nurse noted the victim had suffered bruises around her ear, face and neck, along with severe bodily pain.
Labatte faces three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count each of domestic assault by strangulation and threats of violence. He appeared before a judge on Tuesday, and his bail has been set at $80,000. His next court date is scheduled for Oct. 9.
If convicted, Labatte could serve up to 30 years for each count of criminal sexual conduct, along with maximum sentences of three years and five years for the domestic assault and threats of violence charges.
Court records indicate Labatte is on probation for violating a restraining order involving a different woman in Yellow Medicine County.
“First, we would just like to say we are grateful that this woman is still alive,” Joe Shannon, the communications program manager for Violence Free Minnesota, said.
Shannon added, “If you think a friend or family is going through abuse or violence like this, reach out to them, let them know you are there to listen and support them. Don’t say what they should or shouldn’t do, just let them know you are there to support.”
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reached out to St. Catherine University for a statement on the case. A spokesperson said early Wednesday that it is the university’s policy to not issue any comment that would affect a student’s confidentiality, or potentially re-traumatize individuals. They also said due to an ongoing investigation, they don’t want to jeopardize the case’s integrity.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, several resources are available to offer help. For immediate help, contact:
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.
- Minnesota Day One at 866-223-1111.
- The Women’s Advocates crisis line at 651-227-8284.
More than 12 million people just in the U.S. are affected by domestic violence every year, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
The organizations listed above can help connect victims to resources like safe shelter, advocacy, legal help and support groups.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline also offers tips for identifying abuse and supporting victims of abuse. CLICK HERE to see those.
Other organizations that can help include:
- Violence Free Minnesota at 651-646-6177 or 800-289-6177.
- Battered Women’s Legal Advocacy Project at 612-343-9842.
- Mending the Sacred Hoop at 888-305-1650.
- Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault at 612-209-9993.
Minnesota also has a list of many other resources for victims of crimes that can be found HERE.