Reporting Mike Hellgren
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — New developments in the high-profile sexual assault case at the Naval Academy. Two midshipmen will face a court-martial, while charges will be dropped against a third.
Mike Hellgren breaks down what happens next.
This is a big decision by the superintendent of the Naval Academy. The court-martial could take place as early as December. The midshipmen at the center of it could be put in jail if they’re found guilty or even have to repay their education.
“I’m not going to let this assault define me,” the alleged victim said.
The accuser claims fellow midshipmen raped her at a drunken party off campus last year. Now the superintendent of the Naval Academy has decided to court-martial Joshua Tate and Eric Graham. Both former football players are charged with a sex crime and with making false statements.
Susan Burke represents the accuser.
“There are so many miscarriages of justice in that system that we are pleased there was not a complete miscarriage here,” she said.
A third accused midshipman, Tra’ves Bush, will not face a court-martial.
His lawyer told WJZ: “No reasonable grounds exist to believe that he committed any such crime. With these criminal charges now behind him, he looks forward to continuing his loyal and devoted service.”
A crucial factor in the case is whether the accuser was too drunk to consent to sexual activity.
“I drank a lot, and then from that point on, I really don’t remember what happened,” she said.
She says, after blacking out, she learned through online postings and rumors that she’d been victimized. She claims two of the accused later admitted having sex with her.
The superintendent’s decision on court-martials follows a hearing where her lawyer claims she faced brutal and abusive cross-examination.
“It is the worst thing I’ve ever sat through. I thought, ‘Are we in America?’ I could hardly believe it,” said Burke.
The Navy points out Tate and Graham are presumed innocent until proven guilty, issuing this statement: “We are committed to a thorough, effective and fair conduct system and investigative process.”
The accuser still attends the Naval Academy. She is a senior this year.
In another high-profile case back in 2006, a military jury acquitted former Navy quarterback Lamar Owens of raping a fellow midshipman. He was still expelled and had to pay back the cost of his education.
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