ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Two U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen will face courts-martial in an alleged sexual assault at an off-campus party while a third will not, the academy's superintendent decided on Thursday. All three midshipmen were former Navy football players.
Vice Adm. Michael Miller referred Midshipmen Eric Graham and Joshua Tate for courts-martial even though attorneys for the men said a military judge recommended none of the cases should move forward.
Graham, of Eight Mile, Ala., is charged with abusive sexual contact. Tate, of Nashville, Tenn., is charged with aggravated sexual assault. Both also are accused of making false statements.
Midshipman Tra'ves Bush, of Johnston, S.C., who had been charged with aggravated sexual assault, will not face trial.
The alleged victim, a fellow midshipman who was drinking at the April 2012 party, has said she doesn't remember much about the night, and only heard about the sexual encounters later from other people.
She initially did not want to pursue charges and even asked one of the defendants not to cooperate with investigators in the days following the party, according a phone recording played at a preliminary hearing last month.
The academy did not provide details about why Bush wouldn't face trial. The alleged victim testified at the hearing that they had consensual sex before the night of the party. Her attorney also said testimony from witnesses about the alleged victim's level of intoxication did not come across strongly enough during her encounter with Bush earlier in the evening of the party.
The Associated Press generally does not name alleged victims of sexual assault.
The case has drawn considerable attention at a time when the White House, Congress and the Pentagon are focusing on sexual assaults in the military.
Attorneys for the midshipmen who will face courts-martial said Cmdr. Robert Monahan, who presided over the hearing, recommended the charges be dismissed.
"Obviously, we are disappointed that Vice Adm. Miller has chosen to disregard the recommendations, and we believe it's most likely the result of public pressure," said Ronald Herrington, Graham's lawyer. "However, we believe we have the truth on our side, and we look forward to having the opportunity to show that Midshipman Eric Graham is not guilty of a crime."
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