The US Naval Academy yesterday charged three midshipmen—all current or former football players—with sexually assaulting a female student at an off-campus house in Annapolis in April 2012. The academy said in a news release that the male midshipmen are being charged with two violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. One charge involves rape, sexual assault, or other sexual misconduct. The other is for making a false official statement.
The case has brought renewed focus to how the nation's military academies handle reports of sexual assaults. "Even if this case is successfully prosecuted, the larger problem remains," the woman's lawyer, Susan Burke, said in a statement. "Rape cases in the military are controlled by untrained and biased commanders whose career interests may be served by covering up incidents like this one." The woman reported the allegations to Navy criminal investigators and was disciplined for drinking while the athletes, one of whom discouraged her from cooperating, were permitted to continue playing, Burke has said. Two of the students were football players this past season, but they are not on the team anymore. Another is still on the team, but he has been suspended pending the outcome of the case.