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Md. Lawmakers React To Rape Allegations At Naval Academy

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Annapolis lawmakers are stunned at the sexual assault allegations at the Naval Academy.

Mike Hellgren has more.

That bombshell interview is certainly making waves in Annapolis, with Maryland lawmakers demanding a fair and full investigation. The problem of sex crimes extends to all branches of the military.

“I’m not going to let this assault define me,” said the female midshipman behind the allegations.

Allegations of a gang rape at the Naval Academy are just part of a string of recent sex crimes plaguing the military.

Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, who serves on the Board of Visitors, is demanding action.

“Clearly, what’s happening now is not working. We have to deal with it; it makes us weaker. We cannot afford to do that in our military,” Ruppersberger said.

Senator Barbara Mikulski wrote a letter to the secretary questioning the leadership, saying, “I’ve been working on this issue more than 25 years and keep hearing that the military has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual assault. The message stays the same but the problem keeps getting worse.”

The number of sexual assaults rose six percent between last year and the year before. Many go unreported. The Pentagon estimates 19,300 servicemen and women experienced unwanted sexual contact in 2010; it rose to 26,000 last year.

“The number of episodes are unbelievably high,” said Senator Ben Cardin.

Senator Cardin watched the exclusive CBS interview with the alleged victim.

“This type of conduct will not be tolerated in our military; won’t be tolerated anywhere in society,” Cardin said.

President Barack Obama called for action while addressing graduates in Annapolis last month.

“We have to be determined to stop these crimes,” he said.

Some in Congress want sex crimes to be taken out of the chain of command to ease fears of retaliation.

“These are serious situations that need to be addressed but I haven’t lost hope,” said the midshipman.

Once the charges are made official, a preliminary military hearing known as an Article 32 will be scheduled.

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