FIRST ON FOX: A Minnesota man accused of raping and waterboarding his girlfriend for three days inside her dorm room once sent ominous messages to an ex-girlfriend after she took out a restraining order against him, Fox News Digital has learned.
Keanu Labatte, 19, exhibited troubling behavior with a former lover nearly a year before he allegedly held his latest girlfriend captive and subjected her to sickening abuse at St. Catherine University, an all-girls school in St. Paul, after becoming enraged over photos on her phone.
“Don’t blame me for what happens next,” he allegedly wrote his earlier victim, then 17, on the music app Spotify days after he’d been served with a restraining order barring all contact.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” Labatte wrote. “Can I call you? I still love you.”
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After receiving the alarming messages while attending class at Yellow Medicine East High School, the terrified teenager called the police on Nov. 18, 2022. She told the officers Labatte had written the creepy messages on her playlists.
He was arrested on one misdemeanor count of violating a restraining order and released on a $2,000 bond. Five months later, Labatte was sentenced to one year of probation with the agreement that the charge would be dismissed if he stayed out of trouble.
But Labatte’s current and far more sinister case has put him in violation of his probation and jeopardized his plea deal, court records show.
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On Sept. 7, Labatte arrived at the dorm of his girlfriend of two months to spend the weekend with her, according to a probable cause affidavit.
But he soon discovered texts, pictures and social media posts that “infuriated him” and the visit took a dark turn. After giving her hickeys, which was consensual, Labatte allegedly tore off her clothes, raped her and beat her.
“He also used two hands on her neck to strangle her and threatened to kill her, while calling her a slut,” according to the court document. “She thought she was going to die.”
The shaken victim told police that Labatte had threatened to kill her family and “reminded her that she knew what he had done to a prior girlfriend, which was to hold a knife to her throat.” It wasn’t clear if he was referring to the same ex who had taken out a restraining order against him.
Labatte allegedly moved her mattress to the floor, so he could repeatedly rape her without her neighbors hearing the sexual assaults.
The victim said she was paralyzed by fear.
The abuse escalated on Sept. 9 when Labatte allegedly forced her to lie down in her tub, covered her mouth with a wet washcloth and poured water from a bucket over her face.
“On that same day, he took a knife and threatened to cut [the victim’s] veins so that she would die and no one would help her,” the affidavit says.
READ THE PROBABLE CAUSE AFFIDAVIT AGAINST ACCUSED SEXUAL PREDATOR KEANU LABATTE
Labatte also allegedly punched her four times in the stomach, twice in the throat and once in the face.
The college student persuaded her captor on Sept. 10 to let her leave the dorm to get food for them from the cafeteria. Labatte returned her cellphone to her but demanded that she take a photo once there to prove she’d arrived.
Instead, the victim hightailed it to the university’s security office and begged for help, as Labatte repeatedly called her cellphone. Police arrested Labatte inside her dorm room. After he was read his rights, he made a single statement: “I plead the Fifth.”
Labatte, of Granite Falls, is charged with three counts of criminal sexual conduct, and one count each of domestic assault by strangulation and threats of violence. The accused sexual predator is being held on $80,000 bond and is due back in court Oct. 9.
Labatte’s public defender, Catherine Turner, didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
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