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Report done on Navy Academy sexual assault case

Sep. 30, 2013 - 07:32PM   |  
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ANNAPOLIS, MD. — An investigative officer who presided at a hearing to help decide whether three midshipmen should face court-martial over a sexual assault allegation has forwarded his recommendations to the school’s superintendent, the academy’s spokesman said Monday.

The report by Cmdr. Robert Monahan has been sent to Superintendent Vice Adm. Michael Miller, said spokesman Cmdr. John Schofield. Miller currently has the authority to decide whether the case will proceed to a court-marital.

However, Schofield says Miller will not make a decision right now because of a pending federal lawsuit filed by the attorney for the woman the midshipmen are accused of assaulting. Attorney Susan Burke is suing to try to force the superintendent to recuse himself from the case.

Schofield said the report is part of an ongoing investigation and could not be made public by the academy.

Burke contends Miller is likely to be biased as the head of the school. She also argues that Miller did nothing to prevent lengthy and abusive testimony during the Article 32 hearing which ended in early September.

A hearing on the federal lawsuit has been scheduled for Oct. 7.

The case has drawn attention as the White House, Congress and the Pentagon have been focusing on the issue of sexual assault after a string of cases in the military this year.

The Associated Press generally doesn’t name those who authorities say were victims of sexual assault, and the lawsuit refers to the woman midshipman in the case as Jane Doe.

Eric Graham, 21, is charged with abusive sexual contact, while Midshipmen Tra’ves Bush, 22, and Josh Tate, 21, are charged with aggravated sexual assault. All three also are charged with making a false statement.

The woman testified at the hearing in early September that she had drank heavily and has no memory of having sex with the midshipmen after a 2012 toga party at an off-campus house. She has said she became worried when she noticed lewd comments on Twitter that seemed directed at her and tagged to people she had slept with in the past. She also testified that rumors had spread rapidly that she had had sex with multiple partners at the party.

The lawsuit notes that the person who made the allegations was not the woman, “but some other person who attested to having personal knowledge of the crimes.”

The woman said she awoke at the house the next morning with a sore back. She said she had consensual sex with a different football player that morning at the house, while two other people were in the room.

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