BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After a months-long probe into alleged drug use by U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen, some answers are now coming to light.
The investigation hones in on nine midshipmen, five for what the academy in Annapolis has called “illicit drug use.”
In a statement, a spokesperson cites the drugs included as “cocaine, ketamine, ecstasy, and mushrooms.”
Four midshipmen are also facing disciplinary action for failing to report the alleged drug use.
The investigation at the academy has been underway since late November. One legal expert tells WJZ if found guilty, the accused midshipmen could be facing serious punishments.
“A court-martial carries not only the possibility of a dismissal, which is the equivalent of a dishonorable discharge, but also jail time,” says Steven Wrobel.
Wrobel is an expert in military law. He says as far as the four accused midshipmen go, their punishment may not include jail, but they could still face harsh administrative penalties, including demerits or even paying back money to the academy.
“I would doubt that they would be looking at court-martial proceedings, but very likely, they could be facing some serious administrative proceedings up to and including their own separation from the academy,” he explains.
The Naval Academy notes in a statement a “zero tolerance policy when it comes to the use of illegal substances.”
The statement going on to say the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, or NCIS, Is also looking into the matter and that justice options will be determined afterward.
Wrobel says the accused are still entitled to a presumption of innocence, but the type of drugs at the center of this investigation are troubling.
Read the full statement from USNA Public Affairs Officer Cdr. David McKinney:
After two midshipmen made a report in late November to United States Naval Academy officials, USNA and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service began conducting an investigation into alleged illicit drug use by midshipmen.
The Naval Academy has thus far begun the administrative disciplinary process against five midshipmen for illicit drug use, to include cocaine, ketamine, ecstasy, and mushrooms, and four midshipmen for failing to report known drug use of others, which is a violation of the Midshipman Administrative Performance and Conduct Instruction. Administrative discipline can include demerits, loss of privileges, restriction, and separation from the Naval Academy.
As a result of the investigation–which is still ongoing–military justice options, to include court-martial, remain available and will be decided upon after the full NCIS investigation is concluded and reviewed. The United States Navy and the Naval Academy both have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to the use of illegal substances and take all allegations of misconduct seriously.