On Thursday, the superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy announced that two of the three midshipmen accused of sexual assault would face a court-martial. Vice Adm. Michael Miller referred the cases of Midshipmen Eric Graham and Joshua Tate to general court-martial, but decided not to refer Midshipman Tra'ves Bush.
Graham is charged with abusive sexual content and Tate is charged with aggravated sexual assault. Both midshipmen are charged with making false official statements.
The alleged assault took place at an April 2012 "toga and yoga" party at an off-campus house rented by Navy football players. The alleged victim, a female midshipman who is now 21, has claimed that she was drinking throughout the night of the party and does not remember having sex with anyone. She learned what allegedly happened through rumors and social media posts suggesting that she had slept with several men in the days following the party.
In June, following an investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Miller charged Graham, Tate and Bush with rape, sexual assault, and lying to investigators. The charges led to September's Article 32 hearing, a preliminary proceeding in which evidence is presented to determine whether or not there are valid grounds to continue with the court-martial process. The Article 32 hearing was controversial due to its grueling schedule — the alleged victim faced 20 hours of exhaustive cross-examination by the lawyers for the accused attackers.
Graham and Tate will face a general court-martial, which is the most serious of the three types of court-martials under the UCMJ.
Ellie Hall is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. Her secure PGP fingerprint is 6055 A264 DADD AADC 347E 5986 547C C11C DD7D 176A.
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