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Accuser testifies in Naval Academy sex assault

Aug. 28, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  

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WASHINGTON — A midshipman testified Wednesday that she didn’t remember being sexually assaulted by three former Navy football players after a night of heavy drinking, but she said one of the men told her she had sex with him and another accused player.

The woman, who is now a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy, testified for more than two hours at the Washington Navy Yard at a hearing to determine whether the three midshipmen will face court-martial. She described a night of drinking in her room at the academy with a friend before going to the toga-themed party in April 2012 at an off-campus house in Annapolis, Md.

At the crowded party, which took place in what was known as “the football house” because of its association to the team, the woman said she felt “overwhelmed” and “dizzy” from drinking too much.

“I felt like I was going to pass out,” she said, noting that she leaned against structural beams in the basement to keep from falling over.

The Associated Press generally does not identify alleged victims of sexual abuse. Midshipmen Josh Tate, Eric Graham and Tra’ves Bush are accused of sexually assaulting her.

The woman said she spent the night at the house and woke up the next morning without her phone or purse.

“I was really confused, and I noticed my back was really sore,” she said.

She also testified that she had consensual sex that Sunday morning with a student at the house who has not been charged.

The woman described feeling troubled by not remembering what happened and asked Tate, who had initially invited her to the party, to come to her room to see what he knew.

The woman also noticed “lewd comments” on Twitter that seemed directed at her and tagged to people she had slept with in the past. She also testified that rumors had spread rapidly that she had had sex with multiple partners at the party.

When Tate came to her room, she testified that he joked about her not remembering and suggested he refresh her memory.

“He told me that we did have sex,” she said.

The woman also said she asked Tate if she had had sex with Graham.

“He said yes, and then I was like, ‘I don’t want to hear anymore,’” she said.

The woman also described being reluctant to seek an investigation at first.

“Mainly, I was scared,” she said. “I didn’t want to anyone else to get in trouble.”

She also said she feared her mother would find out and force her to leave the academy.

The woman said she decided to cooperate after hearing rumors that other people, specifically underclassmen, could be blamed.

Her cooperation with Navy investigators included wiretaps.

On cross-examination, Andrew Weinstein, Bush’s attorney, noted that the woman had had a previous sexual relationship with Bush. When asked by Weinstein whether she had ever considered him capable of rape, she said, “I don’t think that he would.”

She also said, “He wasn’t mean to me by any means,” during their previous sexual relationship.

The female midshipman also testified that she didn’t remember whether she had sex with Bush that night. Weinstein noted that it was Bush who told her he had told Navy investigators that the two had had sex.

Cross-examination was continuing into Wednesday night.

The case has drawn attention as the White House, Congress and the Pentagon have been focusing on the issue of sexual assault after a string of cases in the military this year.

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