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Midshipman cleared of sexual assault charges graduates

By Pamela Wood, The Baltimore Sun

5:29 PM EST, November 19, 2013

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Tra'ves Bush, a former Naval Academy football player who was accused of sexual assault, has graduated and been commissioned as a Navy officer.

Bush graduated during a ceremony last Thursday, according to Naval Academy officials and his attorney. He was commissioned as a Navy ensign and will serve as a surface warfare officer, said his attorney, Andrew Weinstein.

Bush was one of three former Navy football players facing possible charges stemming from an off-campus party in April 2012. A female classmate alleged that she learned from friends and through social media that she may have been sexually assaulted at the party, though she acknowledged she was so intoxicated she had few memories of the night.

The three former football players were subject to an eight-day preliminary hearing called an Article 32 hearing in August and September. Following the hearing, charges were not brought against Bush, who was scheduled to graduate last spring.

"For the past six months, Ensign Bush has always stood tall and proud, knowing that truth and justice would ultimately prevail and that the baseless accusations that were leveled against him would be proven to be just that," Weinstein said in a statement.

Midshipman Eric Graham, a senior, will be court-martialed in January on charges of abusive sexual contact and making a false official statement. Midshipman Joshua Tate, a junior, will be court-martialed in February on charges of aggravated sexual assault and making a false official statement.

The case has drawn national attention from victims' rights advocates and politicians who are seeking to change the military's judicial system. Advocates have sought to change the Article 32 hearings, which they say are difficult for victims, who may have to testify again at a court-martial. The alleged victim in the Naval Academy case spent more than 20 hours on the stand over several days while being questioned by prosecutors and three defense teams.

Advocates also want the decision on whether prosecute cases to be taken out of the hands of military commanders.

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