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U.S. Naval Academy sex assault accuser says cannot recall attack

Source: Reuters - Wed, 19 Mar 2014 00:20 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Accuser takes the stand)

By Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON, March 18 (Reuters) - A female U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen who contends she was sexually assaulted by a football player at an alcohol-fueled party testified at his court-martial on Tuesday that she had no memory of the alleged attack.

The 22-year-old woman said she had been drinking heavily at the April 2012 party. But she denied consenting to have sex with Midshipman Joshua Tate, who faces a charge of aggravated sexual assault.

"I had no clue what happened to me," she said under prosecution questioning during the opening day of testimony. The woman said she did not know what had transpired until the day after the off-campus party.

The charges against Tate, a senior from Nashville, Tennessee, are part of a spate of sexual misconduct allegations roiling the U.S. military.

Tate is also accused of making false official statements. He has opted for trial by a judge rather than a jury, and charges against two other football players in the case have been dropped.

The woman testified that the day after the party she saw comments on Twitter indicating someone had sex with multiple partners at the party. After hearing from a friend that she had sex with Tate and others, she confronted him.

"He laughed and said, 'What, you don't remember,'" said the woman, who is a senior at the elite school in Annapolis, Maryland.

"He said, 'Oh, you were too turned up,'" a reference to her being drunk, she testified.

RESISTED INVESTIGATION

As word spread about the incident, the woman resisted a formal investigation. She said she suggested to Tate that he lie about having sex with her.

"I had no desire for this to go forward," said the woman, who was disciplined for drinking. Reuters does not report the names of sexual assault victims.

She also said she had omitted telling Navy investigators key facts and had been disciplined previously for misconduct. Largely composed throughout her testimony, she grew flustered when asked why she had not been more forthcoming with investigators.

Defense attorneys argued the woman initiated sexual contact with Tate. Under questioning by Tate's attorney, Jason Ehrenberg, the woman remembered other events at the party but could not recall being with him in a parked car where the assault was suspected to have taken place.

The Defense Department said in December there were slightly more than 5,000 reports of sexual assaults across the armed forces in the fiscal year ending in October, up about 50 percent from the year before.

President Barack Obama in December approved reforms aimed at stemming the crisis. He urged graduating Naval Academy officers in May to stamp out sexual assault in their ranks.

Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Michael Miller denied in a January hearing that he was under pressure to go ahead with prosecution of the sexual assault even though his legal counsel and a military judge had advised him not to proceed. (Writing by Ian Simpson; Editing by Grant McCool and Andrew Hay)

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