Naval Academy rape case

Here are some articles describing the hearing concerning
whether to bring court-martial charges against
the male midshipmen accused of raping a female midshipman
at the U.S. Naval Academy,
also a CBS News interview with the female midshipman who is the alleged victim.

Naval Academy student speaks out on alleged rape by three classmates
[includes video interview with the female midshipman, the alleged victim]

CBS News, 2013-06-17

[Here is most of the text of web HTML report,
which to a large extent is verbatim transcripts of what is said in the video.]

"CBS This Morning" special correspondent Jeff Glor spoke with the female student involved.

Glor reported, the female student -- a Navy midshipman -- is only 20 years old and is still in school. The incident happened last spring and she admits she had been drinking heavily, and doesn't remember much -- but says that doesn't change the facts. Three of her classmates, three football players, have been accused of rape.

Her mother recently shared her daughter's story with the Washington Post because she believes the Naval Academy has not taken the situation seriously. When the young woman sat down with CBS News, her mother joined, and they asked we conceal both their names and faces.

Describing the April, 2012 when she attended an off-campus house party, she explained, "I was drinking. I drank a lot. And then -- from that point on, I really don't remember what happened. I woke up the next morning with bruises and I knew something wasn't right. But I had no recollection."

She says she started seeing buzz about the party on Facebook, and Twitter.

"And I come to find out that they're telling me I had sexual interactions with people that I was completely unaware of," she said.

Her grasp on details is shaky, she told Glor. "I remember -- just waking up in certain spots, but I do not ever remember any of the assaults or -- sexually engaging any of these individuals."

The woman said she knew all three of the men.

Glor remarked, "You said you had a lot to drink and you don't really remember anything. How then can you be so sure of what happened?"

"Well, one, you know, I have outside witnesses," she said. "The attackers had bragged about it. They had told me to my face -- what they did."

"One of the individuals, he had tweeted, 'The train tickets were on the low.' He was insinuating that it was easy -- that I didn't put up much a fight or that it was an easy to engage in these sexual acts," she explained, adding, "And he thought it was funny."

She said the alleged perpetrator addressed the incident with her directly, too, "He said, 'Don't be mad, I'm saying it to your face.' Like -- 'I'm just joking.' And --"

"That you were easy?" Glor asked.

"Uh-huh," she said.

[The following paragraph is spoken by the CBS News reporter at 2:20 in the video.]

Immediately following that night,
the student went to see a doctor at the Naval Academy.
She was offered a rape kit,
but refused,
explaining now that she was in denial.

[It seems to me that
that directly contradicts her statements
(reported, e.g., by the WP on 2013-09-03)
that she only became aware that the three men had sex with her
when she started hearing about it later.
Why would she go to see a doctor, and why would she be offered a rape kit,
if she was not aware that sex, including coitus, had occurred?]

She did not officially report the incident to school officials until this January.

A month later, she told her mother.

Asked what she remembered about that moment, the woman's mother said, "She just said that she was permitted to come home for a special weekend to talk to me. And when I asked what about and she said, 'After the International Ball, I had been raped.' And I just -- I mean, what do you say? I just told her, 'I'm so sorry.' I'm so sorry for her. And I -- only thing I can do is just be there for her."

After reporting the incident, the student says she felt ostracized from her fellow shipmates and made to believe it was her fault. The turning point, she says, came later during one of the academy's routine sexual assault briefings, where she felt all eyes were focused on her.

"It was really upsetting," the woman said. "I went to the bathroom, I just sat in the stall and cried. And it just so happened that there was another girl sitting right next to me and she was crying, too. And she had come at the stall and she was like, 'You know, you can come out.' And she just hugged me. And we just hugged each other. And I don't know her name to this day. I didn't know her prior to that. But-- unfortunately, we shared that same experience. And it just brought the whole situation to reality that there is a much bigger problem than just this one circumstance that had happened."

The student says when she told school officials she was worried about her safety, they made no guarantees for her protection and told her their hands were tied. She told Glor that she remains worried about retaliation

"You know, there isn't a moment that I -- at school, that I don't look over my shoulder, or aware of the people around me," she said, "I received a lot of hostility, not even from the attackers, but from their teammates."

CBS News asked the Naval Academy for an interview, but the school said they could not speak on camera because this is an ongoing investigation. They issued us a statement, saying "Naval Academy leadership is monitoring the progress of this investigation and evaluating the appropriate options for adjudication. It is completely inappropriate to make any other public comment on this investigation...as we risk compromising the military justice process."

While that process continues -- and even after it's over -- the student says she has no plans to leave school and intends to graduate.

"This has been my dream for a long time," she said, "I'm not gonna let this assault define me or change who I am or what I wanted to do. The military's not perfect. The academy's not perfect. These are obviously some serious situations that need to be addressed. But I haven't lost hope."

The Naval Academy also told CBS News in a statement that sexual assault is a crime and has no place at the U.S. Naval Academy, just as it has no place in the rest of the military.

Hearing on rape charges filed against three former Navy football players
starts Tuesday

by Annys Shin
Washington Post, 2013-08-26

Three former Naval Academy football players face accuser at hearing on rape charges
by Annys Shin
Washington Post, 2013-08-27

Woman accusing 3 from Naval Academy of rape
‘didn’t want anyone else to get in trouble’

by Annys Shin
Washington Post, 2013-08-28


The young woman, dressed in the same white uniform as the defendants,
took the stand in the afternoon and shared her admittedly spotty memory
of the party where she alleges the assault occurred.

She said she drank heavily before and during the party
and was separated from her friends.
She described a split-level off-campus house
packed with male midshipmen dressed in togas
and female midshipmen in yoga pants.
She then recalled brief conversations with the defendants —
cornerback Eric Graham of Eight Mile, Ala.,
safety Tra’ves Bush of Johnston, S.C., and
linebacker Josh Tate of Nashville —
at various times that night.

She said
she awoke the next morning disheveled
with a sore back, knotted hair
and no clear memory of how she got that way.

Soon she began hearing from friends and seeing tweets suggesting that
multiple men had had sex with her at the party.

[ Consider the phenomenon of "sexual assault trauma".
We read that, after a woman complains of being raped,
she is (sometimes) taken to a hospital,
where a specially trained (in what, I wonder? feminist ideology?)
"sexual assault nurse"
examines her vagina for signs of the unwanted penetration,
such as internal cuts and bruises.
Well, again, if one man really does leave such trauma on a woman,
how much more would three men (i.e., in a "gang rape" situation) leave?

And then, by her own testimony reported in the NBC News story just below,
she had consensual sex with another man the morning after.
Some trauma!]

She described conversations she had with Tate after the alleged incident,
including one in her room,
during which she said he tweeted that “the train tickets” were low.
She said she took that to mean multiple men had had sex with her.
[???? Is that a common idiom these days?
Can't find any other reference at google.]

She also described working in tandem with Graham
to try to “squash” rumors of the alleged assault,
which were circulating on campus.
She said she begged friends not to report the alleged incident
and volunteered for punishment for underage drinking.
But at least one friend refused to keep quiet,
forcing her to file a report that launched an investigation.

The accuser said
she did not cooperate with Navy investigators until September,
and even then, she said, she withheld information.


Woman at center of alleged Naval Academy gang rape testifies for first time
By Ali Weinberg
NBC News, 2013-08-28

[It is most striking how much more of the accuser's testimony
is given in the NBC News report
than in the Washington Post report immediately above.
Note, e.g., the part of her testimony below where she testifies about
having engaged in consensual sex the next morning.]

She and several friends had gone to an off-campus residence,
known as the “Football House,”
for a “Togas and Yogas”-themed party,
in which men dressed in togas and women in yoga pants.
The atmosphere was frenzied, she said, with hundreds of guests,
many spread out on the front lawn,
and a Disney-themed bounce house in the yard.

[Since these events took place in the "Football House"
with all four men having sex with her being members of the football team,
why does the media incessantly blame the Naval Academy at large
for its "culture",
rather than just the Naval Academy football team?
Anyone reading the newspapers regularly notes that
football players get in trouble with the law,
often over sexual matters,
far more than members of the general undergraduate body.]

She said that as she kept drinking,
her recollection of the night faded to snippets:
first dancing with friends,
then sitting on a bed as Bush stood over her.
The woman and Bush had recently ended a casual sexual relationship,
she said.

During cross-examination with Bush’s defense counsel,
she said she could not definitively recall
whether or not she and Bush had had sex in the bedroom,
but that he had subsequently told her
that he had informed investigators from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS)
that they had, in fact, had sex.

The next snippet the woman said she remembered was
crouching down in a car later that night,
with two of the other alleged attackers, Graham and Tate,
as well as one other Academy classmate.

She recalled Graham’s body angled towards her, she said,
and that she repeatedly said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,”
and felt upset at the time.
The rest of her time in the car was a blank, she said,
with her final memory of the night being
falling asleep on a couch inside the house.

The next day, she said she woke up, feeling groggy,
and began talking to another Navy football player who was cleaning up the house.
She said she told him her back hurt
and asked him to feel the knots in her back,
which he agreed were large.

About 45 minutes later, the woman testified that
she and the player had consensual sex,
after which he suggested she get a ride back to the Academy with his friends.
Entering his friends’ car,
she realized it was the same one she had been in the night before,
and noticed there was an open, empty condom wrapper on the floor of the car.


Defense attorneys question accuser’s credibility in Naval Academy rape case
by Annys Shin
Washington Post, 2013-08-29


She remained adamant Thursday that
she did not remember much about what happened the night of April 14, 2012,
after she arrived at a “Toga and Yoga” party at an off-campus house
that was packed with midshipmen.
She said she drank heavily and woke up later disheveled with a sore back.
In the days after the party,
she heard rumors that she had had sex with multiple men,
including Bush, 22, of Johnston, S.C., and the two other defendants,
Joshua Tate, 21, of Nashville and Eric Graham, 21, of Eight Mile, Ala.

But Weinstein’s questions raised the possibility that
any sex with Bush that night could have been consensual.
The accuser has testified that she and Bush
had a prior sexual relationship.

“Do you believe Tra’ves Bush to be a rapist?” Weinstein asked.

“I am telling what I know,” she said.
“I can’t say that I do know.”

She said in press interviews that she felt intimidated by her alleged attackers.
But under questioning by Weinstein, she undermined that claim,
saying that she “misspoke”
and that she was referring only to Tate and not to Bush or Graham.

[It seems that a lot of these cases are being tried in the media,
with statements not taken under oath.]

In one of the more dramatic moments of the day,
the defense played a snippet of a phone conversation with Tate
that took place about a week after the party
in which
the woman is pleading with him
to tell investigators that “nothing happened.”
She said in the recording, “I hate to ask you to lie”
but that she was desperate to forestall an investigation.
On the call, Tate responded, “That s--- ain’t cool.”

[How did the defense get that recording?]

The recording contradicted her statements that she had not asked Tate to lie to investigators.

She testified previously that for months after the party
she sought to quash rumors about what happened,
as well as to keep other midshipmen from reporting anything to authorities.


Accuser in Naval Academy rape case granted a day off from testifying
by Annys Shin and Melinda Henneberger
Washington Post, 2013-08-30


“What was she going to be doing anyway?
Something more strenuous than sitting in a chair.
We don’t concede there’s been any stress involved,”
said Ronald “Chip” Herrington,
defense attorney for one of the accused, Eric Graham.

“She shouldn’t get away with it,” he said of the accuser.
“She could testify if she wanted to.
When she wants to answer questions, she does,
and when she doesn’t want to, she gets hazy.”

Herrington said in an interview that
he has known Graham since the midshipman was 2 years old
and helped get him into the Naval Academy.



Lt. Cmdr. Angela Tang, Graham’s military counsel,
told the presiding commander that
one worry was that the accuser would spend any time off she was given
coordinating her testimony with other witnesses.
“I have zero confidence” that she will abide by any instructions not to do that,
Tang said.

The accuser herself told the commander presiding over the hearing,
which will decide whether the case goes to a full court-martial,
“I’m feeling as though I’m compromising,”
and saying things “just to get off the stand.”
She testified in closed session on Tuesday
and open session on the three following days.
At this point, she said, she finds it hard to concentrate,
in part because she isn’t eating.


Military’s handling of sex assault cases on trial at Naval Academy rape hearing
By Melinda Henneberger and Annys Shin
Washington Post, 2013-08-31

Accuser in Naval Academy rape case concludes testimony after five days on stand
By Lyndsey Layton
Washington Post, 2013-09-01

The female midshipman who accused three former U.S. Naval Academy football players of rape concluded her testimony Sunday after a rare break in proceedings Saturday because her attorney said she was emotionally and physically exhausted.

Cmdr. Robert Monahan Jr., the investigating officer presiding over the hearing, agreed to limit the amount of time the accuser would be questioned Sunday.

Monahan made the decision after a pointed request by Susan Burke, the woman’s attorney, who said her client was being worn down by limitless and repetitive questioning by three separate legal teams representing the defendants. By the time she concluded, the woman had been on the stand for more than 24 hours over five days.

Outside the hearing, Burke said she believed there had been “an intentional effort to exhaust the witness” so the proceedings would be halted and the prosecution would go no further.

The hearing is focused on the night of April 14, 2012, after the accuser arrived at a “toga and yoga” party at an off-campus “football house” that was packed with midshipmen.


And Graham’s attorneys asked the woman about how she performs oral sex,
saying they were trying to show the act requires “active participation.”

[Questions on oral sex technique seem superfluous to this inquiry.
How can someone perform fellatio
unless they are conscious and aware of what they are doing?
How on earth can someone who is unconscious perform fellatio
(as opposed to, say, being the receiving party in an act of coitus)?
Are there people who can perform fellatio in their sleep????]


Also Sunday, a medical expert testified about
how alcohol affects behavior and memory,
saying a person in a “blackout state”
will have difficulty remembering his or her actions
but is capable of making decisions and understanding consequences.
Kim Fromme, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Texas,
testified by conference call.

Asked by one of the defense lawyers if
a person “in a blackout stage can willingly engage in oral sex with another,”
Fromme said yes.

When questioned by prosecutors, Fromme said that
a person in a blackout state may have “significantly” impaired judgment.

[There is no question that alcohol affects one's judgment.
But is rape now to be defined as
having sex with people whose judgment is impaired?
How on earth can the extent of judgment impairment be judged,
either by the person initiating sex
or by the judicial process after the fact?
Does the person initiating sex
have to give the other person a blood alcohol test
to determine if it is okay to go ahead?
"Ooooh, your blood alcohol is .08 percent.
Sorry, we can't engage in sex.
Your judgment is impaired."]

Testimony in Naval Academy rape case continues
by Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post, 2013-09-02

Ten midshipmen testified Monday [Labor Day!] in the case of a woman
who said she was raped at a Naval Academy party last year,
giving often-conflicting but mostly damning accounts
as to how intoxicated the accuser was
and her level of awareness about what had happened to her
when she later recounted events to them.


In an illustration of the complicated web of relationships
at the party and in the courtroom,
Ashlyn Soellner, a midshipman who was a witness for the defense,
testified that her relationship with one of the defendants
had gone from doing homework together to a sexual nature.
Another midshipman, Ryan Williams,
said he had had a previous relationship with the accuser.

He testified that the accuser told him,
“I’m not proud of what I did,”
referring to the night of the party.

Another witness — Christa Kamon, a midshipman who is a friend of the accuser —
testified that the accuser called her the day after the party
and asked, “Where am I, and what happened?”

But one of the accuser’s best friends — midshipman Kenyon Williams —
testified that the day after the party,
the accuser appeared aware of what had happened.
“Last night was crazy,” Williams recounted the accuser saying.
He said the woman also told him,
“What I did last night, I did it and I wanted to do it.”

Kenyon Williams testified that the accuser drank alcohol the night of the party
and that although he went with her and others to the party,
he later left without her.
Lawyers for the defendants asked him in cross examination
whether he recalled telling investigators that
the accuser had told him the night after the party
that she “did it” and “wanted to do it.”

“I do not remember her exactly saying that,” he said Monday on the stand.


Hearing in Naval Academy rape case concludes
by Annys Shin
Washington Post, 2013-09-03


The female midshipman, who is now 21, spent more than 20 hours on the stand.
She has testified that she drank heavily that night
and remembers little of what happened.
She said she came to believe she may have been sexually assaulted
after hearing rumors and seeing social-media posts about her after the party,
including some allegedly posted by the accused.

[It is clearly impossible to reconcile that account of her post-party awareness
with her statement in her interview with CBS News broadcast on 2013-06-17 that
(quoting CBS News' text summary of the interview)
"Immediately following that night,
the student went to see a doctor at the Naval Academy.
She was offered a rape kit,
but refused"
Why would she have been offered a rape kit
if she had not told medical personnel that she suspected that coitus had occurred?]


In Navy rape case, defense lawyers go wild
by Ruth Marcus
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2013-09-05


This is an episode without heroes.
It illuminates a tawdry, 21st-century culture of
casual sex, heavy drinking and Internet boasting
about exploits that ought to remain a source of private shame.
The accuser testified that she doesn’t remember what happened that night;
she gathered what had happened
from boastful tweets, Facebook posts, campus gossip
and ultimately one of the three football players themselves.

This alcohol-fueled behavior is certainly not unique to the military academies,
although the academies, among all elite institutions,
may be uniquely positioned to control it.

I did not attend the proceedings;
from afar and perhaps even from close up,
it is difficult to know whether the accuser was sexually assaulted;
whether she was so “substantially incapacitated” as to be incapable of consent;
and whether the three accused midshipmen
understood their classmate was so blotto.

She testified that
when she woke up at the off-campus “football house” the next morning,
she proceeded to have consensual sex with a different football player.

With two other people in the room.

[I have at least skimmed the Washington Post articles on this case
cited above in this blog post,
and can find no mention of the act of consensual sex Marcus references just above.
Did I miss something?
Or did the Post reporters not report this crucial, in my opinion,
part of her testimony?]

This does not answer the question of whether she was raped the night before,
it does say something about the prevailing atmosphere at the academy.

[Ruth Marcus has stated in her columns, as I recall, that she is a lawyer.
One would hope that an ethical lawyer would refrain
from drawing such overly broad conclusions
on the basis of such limited evidence.
"[I]t" says nothing about
"the prevailing atmosphere at the academy",
"[I]t" says much about
the sexual license exhibited by the specific people in that room.

And if one wishes to generalize,
why generalize to the Naval Academy as a whole?
Why not just to its football team,
from which all four people asserted to have had sex with the "victim" were drawn,
and with which, by accounts, both the rental house and the party were associated?
For comparison,
in the notorious allegations of rape at Duke,
it was not Duke University which was assailed,
but rather its lacrosse team, which indeed had hired two strippers for their party.]


Rape hearing offers an unflattering glimpse of Naval Academy culture
by Annys Shin
Washington Post, 2013-09-08

[It should be noted that the most serious allegations in this article
are only against members of the football team and their friends,
not the academy as a whole.
The only accusation against the academy at large is that
midshipmen perform more binge drinking than most college students.]


Former defendant’s deposition raises more doubts in Navy sexual assault case
By Annys Shin
Washington Post, 2014-02-11

A former Navy football player who was charged last year
in a high-profile sexual-assault case at the U.S. Naval Academy
appeared in court Tuesday for the first time as a witness for the prosecution.
But his description of what happened the night of the alleged assault
might help sink the prosecution’s case.


Former Naval Academy Football Player Is Acquitted of Sexual Assault Charges
New York Times, 2014-03-21

WASHINGTON — A military judge on Thursday found Joshua Tate, a former United States Naval Academy football player, not guilty of sexually assaulting a fellow midshipman when she was too drunk to consent, bringing a partial resolution to a high-profile case that has stretched for nearly two years.

Col. Daniel Daugherty, the judge presiding over the trial, sent the lesser charge of making false statements back to the Naval Academy to decide.

Initially described by critics as an example of what is wrong with trying sexual assault cases in the current military justice system, the case has in part unraveled in recent months. Two other former Navy football players were arrested in the case, but charges were never brought against one of them.

Charges were dropped against the other after his statements about the encounter with the woman were determined to be inadmissible because he had not been read his rights before being questioned.

That left just Mr. Tate in court for the three-day trial this week, charged with aggravated sexual assault and making false statements. His accuser, meanwhile, delivered emotional testimony this week, saying she had been torn about whether to come forward with her allegations that she was assaulted when drunk at an off-campus party.

“Openly, yes, I wanted it to close,” she said during testimony on Wednesday, referring to the investigation. “Internally, I didn’t.” Mr. Tate’s lawyer, Jason Ehrenburg, played a recording of a phone conversation between Mr. Tate and his now 22-year old accuser during which she said, “I don’t want this to go anywhere.”

The case stems from a 2012 “yoga and toga” (the men wore togas, the women wore yoga pants) off-campus party near the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where the woman, then a 20-year-old sophomore, arrived intoxicated, she said. In testimony at the trial, she said she had no memory of parts of the evening, no memory of having sex with Mr. Tate, and may have passed out.

[What the media minimizes:
That the venue for the party was known as "the football house",
that the people giving the party were members of the football team,
that all three of accused were football players,
and that all three of them were African-American.
Hey, what do you expect?
That the media would relate this case to problems with football players,
or with African-Americans,
or with the Naval Academy?
Just which of the above do you think is in the media's crosshairs?
Just which do you think the media is doing their level best to demonize?]

More than a dozen people — most of them fellow midshipmen who also attended the party — testified during the week. Tra’ves Bush, the former football player who was arrested but not charged, provided a statement read by his lawyers that the accuser “did not seem intoxicated” when he first encountered her at the party, but he added that she later look as if she had been drinking. He said he had been involved in a relationship with the woman in the past. The head of the Naval Academy decided in October not to take Mr. Bush’s case to court-martial, saying there were no reasonable grounds to believe that he had committed a crime.

The same was not the case for Mr. Tate, who did not take the stand this week on his own behalf. He could have spent up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

During closing arguments,
Navy prosecutors said Mr. Tate initially lied to investigators
to hide the events of the party.
Mr. Tate’s lawyers, meanwhile, said the victim was not incapacitated.
She “went to a party,” said Cmdr. Warren “Art” Record.
“She went out and she behaved scandalously.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York,
has called for cases that involve sexual assault
to be removed from the hands of military commanders.
A Senate bill that would have accomplished that
failed to advance two weeks ago,
on objections from the Pentagon and a number of other senators,
including Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri.

“This case has illustrated a military justice system
in dire need of independence from the chain of command,”
Ms. Gillibrand said in an email Thursday morning.
“It’s not only the right thing to do for our men and women in uniform,
but would also mitigate issues of undue command influence
that we have seen in many trials over the last year.
When survivors and defense attorney’s both agree
we need to reform the system —
it should tell us the system needs reform.”

Does Senator Airhead [flag that!] think that the accuser was in peril?
The next morning she had consensual sex.
Just what was the injury to her, aside from to her reputation?
That seems to be the only injury in many of these cases,
that some will think less of the woman for engaging in sex acts willingly
On the other hand, the complaints from defense attorneys seem to be that
the military is bringing weak cases based on pressure from feminists,
many, if not most, of whom seem unable to understand that
if the military does not bring a case,
that the reason is problems with the case,
not problems with the military.]

Judge finds midshipman not guilty in Naval Academy sex assault case
By Annys Shin
Washington Post, 2014-03-20


The verdict ends a case that
exposed a culture of binge drinking and casual sex
at the Navy’s premier officer training ground,
much to the dismay of many alumni.

[The link in the above is to the WP story
“Rape hearing offers an unflattering glimpse of Naval Academy culture”
on which I commented above.
Let me repeat that comment here:

It should be noted that the most serious allegations in this article
are only against members of the football team and their friends,
not the academy as a whole.
The only accusation against the academy at large is that
midshipmen perform more binge drinking than most college students.

As a matter of fact,
the incident in question occurred at a party held in an off-campus house
called "the football house",
and of those accused by the accuser,
all three were African-American football players.

Where is evidence of "a culture of casual sex" at the Naval Academy,
versus just among football players and their friends?]


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