‘I plead the Fifth’: Boyfriend allegedly waterboarded and raped girlfriend in her dorm for days


Keanu Labatte

Keanu Labatte, inset in a Ramsey County Jail mug shot; St. Catherine University (KTSP screengrab)

A boyfriend showed up at a university dorm room where his girlfriend of two months lived, held her captive for days, raped the victim and waterboarded her after becoming enraged by texts and photos on her phone, authorities in Minnesota allege.

Keanu Avery Labatte, 19, allegedly began the series of sex attacks in the St. Catherine University dorm in St. Paul last Thursday, Sept. 7, after the victim refused to have sex with him. Investigators said that the Granite Falls resident confiscated the victim’s phone, threatened her with a knife, and sexually assaulted, strangled, and beat her until Sunday morning — when she finally escaped by somehow persuading him to let her leave for some food.

“LABATTE went from giving her hickies, which was consensual, to forcefully removing her clothing and penetrating her vaginally and anally with his penis and fingers after she told him that she did not want to have sex,” the complaint said.

The suspect had allegedly made threats to kill both the victim and her family members, and suggested he’d hold the victim at knifepoint just like he did to a previous girlfriend.

The victim also said Labatte “yelled and physically assaulted her” and that he “used two hands on her neck to strangle her and threatened to kill her, while calling her a slut,” the complaint said.

At the time of the alleged days-long sex attack, Labatte was on probation in Yellow Medicine County for violating a harassment restraining order filed by the family of another victim, local ABC affiliate KSTP reported.

According to a criminal complaint, the victim told investigators she was so “terrified” that she “would just lay next to Labatte and not move for fear of what he would do to her.” She recalled the suspect moving a mattress inside the dorm room from the bed frame to the floor, so that the bed wouldn’t squeak as he committed the assaults.

By the weekend, the victim further said, the suspect put a washcloth over her face and started waterboarding her in a bathtub.

The victim said Labatte “punched her in the stomach four times, twice in the throat and once in the face.”

“She detailed the waterboarding, saying that LABATTE filled a bucket, forced her to lay in the bathtub, put a washcloth over her face and poured water over her,” the complaint said. Labatte allegedly held the victim’s arm and threatened he was “looking for the right vein to cut deep enough so no one could save her.”

More Law&Crime coverage: Florida man sentenced to prison for ambushing then-wife in the middle of the night and holding her captive for days

Crucially, the suspect apparently allowed the victim to leave the room to get food and even gave her back her phone on Sunday morning.

Instead of contacting the attacker on Snapchat and providing updates on her whereabouts as he demanded, the victim called for help, the complaint said.

When police arrived at the dorm room scene, the defendant was still there — and authorities said he had only one thing to say: “I plead the Fifth.”

The victim later told a nurse examiner that the pain she felt in her abdominal area had a “rating of 8.5 out of 10,” according to the complaint.

Labatte is now charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct (three counts), threats of violence, and domestic assault by strangulation. Minnesota law defines first-degree criminal sexual conduct as: “sexual penetration with another person” when “circumstances existing at the time of the act cause the complainant to have a reasonable fear of imminent great bodily harm”; when the attacker “is armed with a dangerous weapon”; when the attacker “causes personal injury to the complainant” — and uses force or coercion to do so.

Authorities said that they found an “orange/black/silver folding knife in the front pocket of a green backpack” inside the dorm and “located a red washcloth that was wet on the bathroom sink.”

The top charge is punishable by “not more than 30 years” upon conviction.

The defendant’s bail was reportedly set at $80,000 after appearing before a judge Tuesday. Law&Crime reached out to the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office to inquire about Labatte’s custody status. The sheriff’s office confirmed that Labatte is still in jail custody.

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