Hearing begins for midshipmen in Naval Academy sexual assault case

Aug. 27, 2013 at 4:17 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- A preliminary hearing began Tuesday for three U.S. Naval Academy football players charged with raping a female midshipman at an off-campus party.

The hearing at the Washington Navy Yard for Tra'ves Bush, Eric Graham and Joshua Tate is expected to take several days, The Baltimore Sun reported. Navy Cmdr. Robert P. Monahan Jr. will decide if they should stand trial for sexual assault.

The woman told investigators she was assaulted at a "football house" in Annapolis, Md., in April 2012 but was so drunk at the time she could remember little of what happened, her lawyer, Susan Burke, told the Sun.

Most of Tuesday's proceedings were closed to the public, the Sun said. Lawyers for the three midshipmen argued for the exclusion of evidence.

A public session was expected Tuesday evening.

All three could be charged with making a false official statement while Bush and Tate face potential aggravated sexual assault charges and Graham a charge of abusive sexual contact. Once Monahan has weighed the evidence and made his findings, Vice Adm. Michael Miller, the academy's superintendent, will decide if they should be court-martialed, should face administrative sanctions or should be cleared.

The alleged victim has already been disciplined for getting drunk, officials said.

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