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Boyfriend charged with waterboarding, sexually assaulting student in dorm assault

St. Paul police say 19-year-old Keanu Labatte was enraged after discovering text messages, pictures and social media posts on the victim's phone.
Credit: Ramsey Co. Sheriff's Office
Prosecutors say 19-year-old Keanu Labatte held his girlfriend prisoner in her dorm room for a weekend, sexually assaulting and strangling her.

ST PAUL, Minn. — A 19-year-old man is in custody, charged with felonies ranging from criminal sexual conduct to domestic assault after prosecutors say he held his girlfriend prisoner in her dorm room for three days. 

A criminal complaint filed in Ramsey County lays out the allegations against Keanu Avery Labatte, who is charged with five separate felony counts. 

Prosecutors say the victim, a student at St. Catherine University, called campus security the morning of Sept. 10 and said she had been physically and sexually abused in her dorm room throughout the weekend by her boyfriend, later identified as Labatte. 

The victim told police that the defendant came to visit her the evening of Thursday, Sept. 7, and became enraged after discovering texts, pictures and social media posts on her phone. She said Labatte took her phone, and set off on a weekend where she was reportedly strangled, sexually assaulted and waterboarded. 

Court documents describe how the victim said she was strangled while Labatte threatened to kill her, becoming light-headed and thinking she was going to die. She also alleges that the defendant filled a bucket with water, made her lie in the bathtub put a washcloth over her face and poured water on her. 

The woman told police she finally managed to escape Sunday morning after convincing Labatte she was just going to the cafeteria for food. Instead, she went to the campus security office and explained what had happened to her. 

Court documents say when police went to the victim's dorm room they found Labatte inside. After being read his rights, officers say the defendant said "I plead the fifth," and no further questions were asked as he was taken into custody. 

The victim went to a local hospital for a sexual assault exam. The nurse examiner noted bruising on her ear, face, and neck, and evidence supporting her claim she was sexually assaulted. 

Court records show Labatte is currently on probation for violating a harassment/restraining order. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and needs help, call 800-799-7233 or text START to 88788 to be connected with someone from the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The hotline includes more options for support and identifiers of abuse on its website.

For Minnesota residents, Cornerstone MN offers resources and safe housing for domestic abuse survivors and crime victims. Call 1-866-223-1111 or chat online with the crisis hotline.

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