Former Navy Football Players Face Court-Martial After Alleged Sexual Assault

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 10, 2013

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
AP Photo/Jacquelyn MartinMitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Two former Navy Midshipmen football players have plenty of questions to answer as they will face court-martial proceedings stemming from an alleged sexual assault incident, according to the New York Times.

Both Eric Graham and Joshua Tate will have their cases heard by court-martial, while it was decided that Tra'ves Bush would not.

According to the U.S. Naval Academy in a statement, it decided to refer Graham and Tate to court-martial in the interest of a fair investigation for the players as well as the alleged victim:

We are committed to a thorough and fair conduct system and investigative process, and the Naval Academy will meet the highest standards, operate consistent with the law, and expeditiously investigate every report of unwanted sexual contact, sexual harassment and sexual assault.

The alleged sexual assault incident reportedly took place at an off-campus house in April 2012 during a "Toga and Yoga" party, which featured heavy alcohol consumption.  

While the case was initially closed in November 2012 due to the alleged victim not cooperating and not wishing to press charges, it was reopened in January when the alleged victim agreed to testify. 

The alleged victim reportedly arrived at the party intoxicated and doesn't remember having sex on the night of the incident, but she was told by others and via social media what had happened.

Graham, who was a little-used defensive back for Navy, has been charged with abusive sexual contact. Tate is a former Navy linebacker who saw some in-game action in 2012, and he is charged with aggravated sexual assault and making false official statements.

There is a great deal of controversy surrounding the case. Susan Burke, who is the alleged victim's attorney, has said that the case was swept under the rug by the U.S. Naval Academy to save face, although the academy denies that claim.

There is also plenty of scrutiny around the United States Uniform Code of Military Justice's initial Article 32 hearing, which determines if there is enough evidence for a court-martial.  According to the Times report:

During the Article 32 hearing, the woman was aggressively grilled about her sexual habits, generating some public scrutiny of the Article 32 proceedings... Article 32 hearings permit questions not allowed in civilian courts and can include cross-examinations of witnesses so intense that legal experts say they frighten many victims from coming forward.

With the government focused on stamping out military sexual assault coupled with this particular case's link to college football, there is no question that it will be a high-profile situation moving forward.


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