By Pamela Wood, The Baltimore Sun
8:47 PM EDT, September 30, 2013
A report recommending whether to proceed with sexual assault charges against three former Naval Academy football players has been sent to the academy's superintendent, but his decision in the matter is on hold.
For eight days in late August and early September, investigating officer Navy Cmdr. Robert P. Monahan Jr. Iistened to testimony about alleged sexual assaults at an off-campus party in April 2012.
The Naval Academy's superintendent, Vice Adm. Michael H. Miller, will review Monahan's findings and decide whether to court martial the midshipmen, punish them administratively or drop the case. Miller is not bound to follow the recommendations of the investigating officer.
The report is not public because it is part of an active investigation, said Cmdr. John Schofield, an academy spokesman.
Schofield said Miller won't make a decision in the case until a resolution is reached in a related federal lawsuit.
The alleged victim in the case has filed the lawsuit asking a judge to strip Miller's authority to decide whether to prosecute the case. Her attorney argues Miller is biased in favor of the football team, and also did nothing to curtail more than 20 hours of intense questioning of the woman, who is now a senior at the academy.
A hearing in the lawsuit is scheduled in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Oct. 7.
The woman testified during a preliminary review called an Article 32 hearing that she drank heavily before and during the party and did not know she engaged in sex acts with multiple partners. It was only later that she learned what may have happened through rumors and postings on social media.
The woman testified she initially was reluctant to report the incident and did not fully cooperate with Navy investigators until several months later.
Proponents of reforming the military justice system have seized on the Naval Academy case as an example of how the Article 32 hearings can be traumatizing for victims, who have to repeat their testimony if their case goes to court martial.
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