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Midshipman accused of sex assault wants superintendent removed from case

Laws and LegislationSexual MisconductSexual AssaultAbusive BehaviorJustice SystemAssault

One of the Naval Academy midshipmen accused of sexually assaulting a classmate is seeking to join a lawsuit, filed by the alleged victim, that calls for the academy superintendent to be removed from the case.

Midshipman Joshua Tate is seeking "intervenor" status in the federal lawsuit, arguing that Vice Adm. Michael Miller, the superintendent, is biased against him.

Tate's attorney, Jason Ehrenberg, argued in a court filing Tuesday that Miller ordered a court-martial for Tate even after the military judge who held a preliminary hearing, and Miller's own legal representative, advised against doing so.

Under military law, Miller is not bound to follow the recommendations of the investigating officer.

Ehrenberg says Miller's decision was influenced by the alleged victim's filing a lawsuit to remove him from the case, and by the public spotlight on sexual assault in the military. He suggested Miller might want to have the case prosecuted — even though he assumes an acquittal is likely — because he is in a "political bind."

The alleged victim filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Baltimore in September, seeking to have Miller stripped of his authority to decide whether to prosecute the case.

Three midshipmen, all former football players, were accused of sexually assaulting the woman at an off-campus party in April 2012 where she drank so much she said she blacked out.

The Baltimore Sun does not name alleged victims of sexual assaults.

The alleged victim sought an injunction to prevent Miller from deciding while the full lawsuit is pending. Judge Ellen Hollander denied that injunction, but the suit remains active.

Miller announced last week he would order court-martials against Tate and Midshipman Eric Graham. Miller declined to prosecute Midshipman Tra'ves Bush.

Graham was arraigned Wednesday and did not enter a plea. Tate's arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 4. No date has been set yet for the court martial for either Tate or Graham.

A Naval Academy spokesman declined to comment, saying it would be inappropriate to discuss a pending legal matter.

Susan Burke, the attorney representing the alleged victim, also declined to comment on Tate's attempt to join the lawsuit.

pwood@baltsun.com

twitter.com/pwoodreporter

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Laws and LegislationSexual MisconductSexual AssaultAbusive BehaviorJustice SystemAssault
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