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Court-martial begins for mid accused of sexual assault

Mar. 14, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Josh Tate
Midshipman Joshua Tate faces charges related to an alleged sexual assault at an off-campus party in April 2012. Charges against two other former Navy football players related to the incident were dropped. (Navy via AP)
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Opening arguments in the court-martial of a former Naval Academy football player accused of sexually assaulting a female midshipmen at an off-campus party will begin Monday, an academy spokeswoman told Navy Times.

Midshipman 1st Class Joshua Tate, 21, faces charges of aggravated sexual assault. He opted for a trial by judge, rather than a jury of Navy and Marine Corps officers, at his Friday jury selection hearing, The Associated Press reported.

Two other former academy football players had been charged in the case, but their charges were dropped in October and January.

The case stems from an April 2012 toga party at a house rented for the football team in Annapolis, Md. The accuser testified at a September Article 32 hearing that due to heavy drinking, she had no memory of having sex with the three men, but learned about what happened when rumors began spreading around campus.

Academy superintendent Vice Adm. Michael Miller decided not to pursue a court-martial against Tra’ves Bush, who has since graduated, following the Article 32. During the hearing, equivalent to a civilian grand jury, the accuser admitted she had a previous sexual relationship with Bush.

A midshipman and close friend of the accuser testified that she strongly remembered the accuser telling her that she had consensual sex with Bush earlier in the evening before becoming more intoxicated.

Charges against Midshipman 1st Class Eric Graham were dropped in January after a judge threw out Graham’s statement to police, in which he admitted to having sex with his accuser, because police had not read him his rights.

The case has also been mired by requests to remove Miller as the convening authority, from both the defense and prosecution. The accuser’s attorney filed a lawsuit in September, alleging Miller’s bias toward the academy drove him to allow a “lengthy and abusive” Article 32 in which the accuser was pushed past her emotional limits.

Weeks later, an attorney for Bush joined the suit, alleging Miller was also biased against Bush for bringing negative attention to the academy.

Opening arguments are scheduled for March 17, following March 14 jury selection, academy spokeswoman Colleen Roy said.

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