Military member cleared of sex crimes charges in assault

A military member in Maryland has been cleared of all criminal charges in connection with an alleged sexual assault on a female classmate in Annapolis. The man, a fourth-year midshipman, had faced allegations of sex offenses including abusive sexual contact. He was also accused of making a false statement in connection with the case. That individual, an Alabama native, was one of three football players for Navy who had been implicated in the alleged assault at a party in 2012. Now, just one of the men is facing prosecution in the matter.

Still, victims’ advocates say that the case should not be considered a victory for fairness in the legal system. Rather, the way the case was handled may make victims reluctant to report future sex crimes, largely because of the manner in which the victim was questioned by officers. Three separate defense teams reportedly interrogated the woman for about 30 hours, with advocates calling the process ‘abusive.’ Still, the victim is determined to move forward with the case. New laws to protect military victims have since been passed, including a provision that would remove the requirement for alleged victims to testify in their own cases.

The young man in this case told news reporters that he was relieved to be finished with the legal proceedings, and he is currently looking forward to serving the U.S. through his naval career. This athlete was ostensibly a member of recent cohorts who have been well-educated about the implications of sexual harassment and assault; team captains and other campus leaders have been specially trained to reinforce expectations of respect and dignity toward other servicemembers.

Sex crimes affect both victims and alleged perpetrators. The military in Maryland has a responsibility to cultivate an environment in which alleged offenders may receive a fair, unbiased trial, while also protecting victims from inappropriate intrusions. The dismissal of charges against this defendant provides an excellent example that unbiased, evidence-based system at work.

Source:  The Baltimore Sun, “Naval Academy drops sex assault charges against football player” Matthew Hay Brown & Pamela Wood, Jan. 11, 2014