A St. Catherine University student escaped after four days of her boyfriend holding her captive in her dorm room, where he raped, beat and "waterboarded" her in the bathtub, according to charges.
Keanu A. Labatte, 19, of Granite Falls, Minn., was charged Monday in Ramsey County District Court with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, domestic assault by strangulation and threats of violence in connection with captivity from Thursday evening until late Sunday morning, when the woman came up with a story that allowed her to flee.
During a hospital exam Sunday, medical personnel detected evidence of rape, the charges read. She said Labatte also punched and bit her, according to the charges.
Labatte appeared in court Tuesday and remains jailed in lieu of $80,000 bail. He has another hearing scheduled for Oct. 9. A message was left with his attorney seeking a response to the allegations.
St. Catherine spokeswoman Sarah Voigt issued a statement late Tuesday afternoon on behalf of school administration that read, "It is our policy at St. Catherine University not to issue any comment that would affect student confidentiality or potentially retraumatize individuals. As this is an ongoing investigation, we do not wish to jeopardize the integrity of the case as it develops."
According to the charges:
The woman went to security at the Catholic women's university in St. Paul to report the abuse she endured from Labatte, who had become enraged by texts, photos and social media content that he discovered upon his arrival Thursday. Security immediately alerted police.
She told police that Labatte squeezed his hands around her neck until she "felt lightheaded and saw stars" and raped her while calling her a sexually demeaning name.
On Saturday, he forced her into the bathtub and "engaged in waterboarding by covering her mouth with a wet washcloth," the charges said. He also brandished a knife and threatened to kill her.
The woman escaped after persuading Labatte to let her go to the cafeteria, but she went to police, who noticed black, blue and red marks on her neck. While she was telling police what had happened to her, Labatte was calling and texting her cellphone, which he had given back to her under the condition that she take a photo of herself getting food. He texted at one point asking why the police were outside.
Police went to the woman's room, found Labatte still there and arrested him. He declined to answer their questions.
At the time of his arrest, Labatte was on probation for violating a restraining order issued in November in Yellow Medicine County on behalf of a 17-year-old girl who had been his girlfriend.
Higher learning institutions in Minnesota are required by law to file with the state the number of sexual assault allegations they investigate each year that either involve staff or students, or occur on campus or at a school-sponsored event.
The number of investigations conducted by St. Catherine has been steadily declining from 20 in 2019 to 11 in 2022, according to data posted on the school's website. The school also has a detailed form available for filing a report concerning sexual assault or sexual harassment.