Charges Against 1 Of 2 Defendants In Naval Academy Assault Case Dropped

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Charges are dropped against one of the Naval Academy midshipmen accused of sexually assaulting a female classmate.

The Naval Academy says the case against Midshipman Eric Graham has been dismissed. He had faced charges of abuse of sexual contact and making a false statement.

A female classmate accused Graham and two other former football players of assaulting her in 2012.

It comes the same day the Pentagon releases its annual report card on sexual assault at military academies.

Mary Bubala reports.

A new Pentagon study shows reports of sexual assault at the nation’s military academies, including the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, declined last year. But the study found evidence of a culture that tolerates offensive sexual behavior.

There were 70 reports of sexual assault at the academies during the last school year–down from 80 the previous year. The actual number of assaults could be higher.

“Cadets and midshipmen also identify peer pressure as a barrier to reporting. That’s not good,” said Major General Jeffrey Snow.

Students who took part in focus groups did report: “…crude and offensive language and sexist comments occur frequently and are an ingrained part of the experience at the academies.”

Pentagon leaders say that needs to change.

“No one should believe they must tolerate this behavior as part of their education,” Maj. Gen. Snow said.

The report singled out incidents involving sports teams at all three academies.

“The system is rotten,” said Rep. Jackie Speier, (D) California.

Lawmakers, including Speier, say the military must make it easier for victims to come forward.

“I don’t have a lot of confidence that the academies are going to fix this,” Speier said. “It’s going to be fixed because Congress is going to demand changes.”

Speier wants decisions about whether cases should be prosecuted taken out of the hands of academy superintendents.

Reports of sexual assault decreased at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and at the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, but they rose at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

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