Two ex-Navy football players face court-martial
- Article by: JENNIFER STEINHAUER
- New York Times
- October 10, 2013 - 7:10 PM
WASHINGTON – Two former Naval Academy football players accused of raping a female midshipman at an off-campus party will face court-martial proceedings, in the latest in a string of high-profile sexual assault cases in the military that have drawn increased scrutiny from the Pentagon and Congress.
The case stems from a 2012 “yoga and toga” party near the academy in Annapolis, Md., where the woman, then a 20-year-old second-year student, arrived intoxicated and had sex with some of the players. In grueling testimony last month during a military hearing at the Washington Navy Yard, she said she had no memory of parts of the evening and might have passed out.
The next day, the woman testified, she heard via social media of the encounters with the three players. The investigation was stymied in part by the woman’s initial refusal to cooperate, academy officials said.
The superintendent of the academy, Vice Adm. Michael Miller, after an initial hearing on the case, known as an Article 32 hearing, referred two midshipmen, Eric Graham and Joshua Tate, to general court-martial. Graham is charged with abusive sexual contact and Tate with aggravated sexual assault. Both are charged with making false official statements. Miller declined to refer charges against another midshipman, Tra’ves Bush, the third player accused.
Miller, who is what the military calls the “convening authority” in the case, made the highly unusual choice of pressing for courts-martial against the advice of the investigating officer, who oversaw the hearing and predicted the prosecution would fail to convict the three men.
Chip Herrington, the lawyer for Graham, said his client was “not guilty and the allegations of sex abuse against him are completely false.”
During the Article 32 hearing, the woman was aggressively grilled about her sexual habits, generating scrutiny of the Article 32 proceedings, which help determine whether cases are sent to court-martial. Article 32 hearings permit questions not allowed in civilian courts and can include cross-examinations of witnesses so intense that legal experts say they frighten many victims from coming forward.
© 2013 Star Tribune