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Military Judge Orders CBS, CNN Interviews Turned Over In Naval Sexual Assault Case

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—The defense team for a Naval Academy midshipman accused of sexual assault wants unaired footage from interviews his accuser granted to CBS and CNN. And a military judge ordered the networks to turn them over.

Investigative reporter Mike Hellgren looks at the fallout from that decision.

The networks have a 72-hour window to appeal. The defense wants to see whether the accuser changed her story in any of those interviews.

“When she sat down with us, her mother joined.  They asked we conceal both their names and their faces,” said Jeff Glor, CBS News.

“She agreed to tell us her story as long as we conceal her identity,” said Anderson Cooper, CNN.

CBS and CNN interviewed the accuser for a combined 100 minutes and aired a combined 16 minutes of that footage.

The defense for accused Midshipman Joshua Tate fought for access to all of it.

Accuser: “I knew I would never consent to do these type of things.”

Cooper:  “Did you go see a doctor?”

Accuser: “I did, just for health reasons.”

Law professor Byron Warnken says the case shows the risks of giving interviews before trial.

“You may or may not get in trouble by what you say.  We know you’re not getting in trouble by what you don’t say,” Warnken said.

Lawyers for the networks have said in court their reporters should not be forced to hand over anything, and that there’s no new information in that unaired footage.

In the end, a judge ordered both networks to turn over unaired portions of the interviews that he feels do not duplicate other interviews or testimony from the female midshipman.

“Naturally, if I’m defense counsel, I want to see the whole thing, and maybe there’s nothing helpful to me,” Warnken said. “But if I don’t get it, I don’t even get to make that decision.”

In a statement, CBS said, “CBS News is considering an appeal.”

WJZ is owned by the CBS Corporation.

Tate’s court-martial is scheduled to begin in March.

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