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Crime News Domestic Violence

Minnesota Man Jailed for Allegedly Sexually Assaulting, Waterboarding Girlfriend in Her University Dorm Room

Keanu Labatte, 19, allegedly threatened the unidentified victim with a knife, telling her he'd "cut deep enough so no one could save her.”

By Dorian Geiger
One Sexual Assault Survivor's Quest To End The Shocking Backlog Of Untested Rape Kits

A 19-year-old Minnesota man is behind bars for allegedly torturing his girlfriend in her dorm room for several days after he discovered texts on her phone that “infuriated him.”

Keanu Labatte is accused of holding the unidentified victim hostage for several days in her dorm room at St. Catherine University in Saint Paul, where he allegedly sexually assaulted her, waterboarded her and threatened her with a knife, according to a criminal complaint obtained by local television station KSTP-TV.

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Labatte was charged with three counts of felony criminal sexual conduct, domestic assault by strangulation and for threats of violence.

On September 7, police say the Granite Falls man traveled roughly 140 miles to Saint Paul to visit his girlfriend, a St. Catherine student, whom he’d been dating for approximately two months, the outlet reported. After arriving at her dorm late at night, Labatte allegedly found texts, images, and other content on his girlfriend’s social media accounts that “infuriated him,” the case complaint stated.

A Mugshot of Keanu Labatte

The woman accused Labatte of swiping her phone and refusing to give it back to her. Prosecutors say he later threatened to kill her, as well as her relatives, strangled her, and sexually assaulted her over the following days. 

According to the complaint, the St. Catherine student was “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.”

At one point, Labatte allegedly forced the terrified victim to sit in the bathtub where he laid a wash cloth over her face and dumped water on her until she found it difficult to breathe, the complaint alleged.

Labatte allegedly threatened his girlfriend with a knife, as well. She told law enforcement that the 19-year-old suspect had been “looking for the right vein [on her arm] to cut deep enough so no one could save her.”

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On Sunday, Labatte’s girlfriend convinced him to allow her to leave the dorm to get some food at the school’s cafeteria. He returned her phone, the complaint stated, under the condition she used it to check in with him when she got there. The woman, however, went straight to campus police to report the alleged assault.

Campus security later arrested Labatte inside the dorm room. Authorities found a damp washcloth and a folding knife in a backpack in the dorm, according to the case’s court documents. The room’s mattress had also been moved to the floor by Labatte, the victim said, so the bed wouldn’t make any noise while he allegedly sexually assaulted her.

Labatte has a past history of domestic violence and is currently on probation for violating a restraining order in a separate case pertaining to another woman in Yellow Medicine County, KSTP-TV reported.

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“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, told KSTP-TV. “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.”

It’s unclear how the alleged dorm room assault went undetected by university officials for several days. 

“It is our policy at St. Catherine University not to issue any comment that would affect student confidentiality or potentially re-traumatize individuals,” Sarah Voigt, a media relations representative for the school, said in a statement, the New York Post reported. “As this is an ongoing investigation, we do not wish to jeopardize the integrity of the case as it develops.” 

A spokesperson for St. Catherine University didn’t immediately respond to Oxygen.com’s request for comment on Thursday.

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