U.S. Naval Academy Rape Hearing Expected To End Tuesday

The preliminary hearing for three former U.S. Naval Academy football players charged with raping a female midshipman is expected to conclude on Tuesday after a week of testimony.

The men – Tra’ves Bush, 22; Eric Graham, 21; and Joshua Tate, 21 – are accused of sexually assaulting the woman in April 2012 when she blacked out from binge drinking at an off-campus party in Annapolis, Maryland, the site of the elite academy.

During the hearing, which began last Tuesday, the woman faced dozens of hours of sometimes graphic and repetitive questioning from defense attorneys about the party and its aftermath.

The rape allegations are the latest in a spate of high-profile U.S. military sexual assault cases, some involving personnel whose job it was to prevent sexual abuse.

More witnesses and closing statements are scheduled for Tuesday in the so-called Article 32 hearing, which determines whether a general court-martial is warranted.

The presiding officer, Commander Robert Monahan, said he expected the hearing at Washington’s Navy Yard to wrap up by the end of the business day. A decision on whether to proceed to a court-martial is expected to take one or two weeks.

The woman has testified she filed an assault report only on another student’s urging, saying she had not wanted to get anybody in trouble or be forced to leave school.

The three defendants are charged with sexual assault and making false statements. Reuters generally does not report the names of sexual assault victims.

Disclosure of the alleged incident came a week after President Barack Obama, in a speech at the Naval Academy on May 24, urged graduates to stamp out sexual assault from their ranks.

Bush’s May graduation was put on hold pending the outcome of the case. Graham is a senior and Tate is a junior.

Source : Reuters