Biden judicial nominee alleged to have threatened to expose identity of teenage sexual assault victim

February 28, 2023
Ben Marquis

In January, President Joe Biden nominated an attorney from New Hampshire, Michael Delaney, to serve as a federal judge on the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

However, as the Senate considers that nomination, it has since been revealed that Delaney is alleged to have previously attempted to intimidate a teenaged sexual assault victim into silence, the Daily Caller reported.

That victim was undeterred by Delaney's alleged threats toward her at that time, and she is now raising the alarm about him ahead of his possible confirmation as a federal judge.

Sexual assault covered up

The victim in this case is a young woman named Chessy Prout who as a high school freshman was sexually assaulted in 2014 by a senior while attending a prestigious private school known as St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire.

The Concord Monitor reported in 2018 that Prout's assailant, Owen Labrie, had been convicted in 2016 of statutory rape and other charges, and following that conviction, Prout's family had filed a civil lawsuit against St. Paul's School for having failed to take adequate action to protect its students from sexual assault.

That lawsuit ended in a confidential settlement, and Prout went on to become an activist focused on raising awareness about the victims of sexual assault.

Attempt to intimidate with threat of exposure

Fast-forward several years to President Biden's nomination of Delaney to be a federal judge, and Prout has stepped forward to reveal both that Delaney was the attorney who represented St. Paul's School in the prior civil lawsuit as well as that he had attempted to intimidate her to remain silent about what had happened to her at that school.

In an op-ed for the Boston Globe, Prout wrote of how "Delaney filed a motion to strip me, then 16, of my anonymity if my supporters continued to make public statements about the case."

She was not cowed by that threat to be publicly outed by the attorney, however, and proceeded to out herself in the midst of the lawsuit, but said, "Because of his actions, I lost the privilege of privacy."

She shared how her name and pictures and all sorts of information about her and her family had been posted online prior to coming forward, and how they received countless threats of death and violence. "This was the result of my loss of privacy. This is what Delaney felt was 'fair' to expose me and my family to when filing a motion to strip my anonymity," she said.

Democratic senators silent about victim's plight

Prout further revealed in the op-ed for the Globe how she had sent letters addressing her concerns about Delaney to the Senate Judiciary Committee, her two Democratic senators from New Hampshire -- Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan -- and the White House Counsel's Office, but to no avail.

"When his nomination was announced, I felt defeated. It seems the White House heard my concerns and deemed them unimportant," she wrote.

Prout also referenced what she wrote to the Judiciary Committee, about how "the justice system must serve all involved in court proceedings -- the victim/complainant and defendant/institution. An attorney who practices victim intimidation does nothing for the greater good; he stands in the way of justice and keeps the community in a toxic cycle of harm and silence."

She additionally called out the apparently empty rhetoric from Sens. Shaheen and Hassan, as well as other Democratic senators and the White House, about standing up for victims of sexual assault, and concluded, "Now more than ever, it’s time for action. Michael Delaney’s nomination must be withdrawn and the White House needs to follow through on its pledge to support survivors."

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