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Former academy instructor acquitted of rape of midshipman

Sexual MisconductSexual AssaultAssaultU.S. Department of DefenseUnited States Naval AcademyChuck Hagel

A former instructor at the Naval Academy has been found not guilty of aggravated sexual assault in an alleged attack on a female midshipman two years ago, an academy spokeswoman said Sunday.

Marine Corps Maj. Mark Thompson, 43, was found guilty of indecent acts, failure to obey an order or regulation and conduct unbecoming an officer in the 2011 incident, spokeswoman Jenny Erickson said.

He is to be sentenced on Monday.

Thompson, who taught history at the academy, was accused of attacking the midshipman in his Annapolis apartment following the annual croquet match between the Naval Academy and St. John's College. He appeared before a court-martial last week at the Navy Yard in Washington.

The record of the court-martial now will be forwarded to Vice Adm. Michael Miller, the academy superintendent, for review and a final decision.

Erickson declined to comment further.

In a separate matter, a Pentagon spokesman acknowledged last week that the Navy is investigating the alleged sexual assault of a female midshipman last year by three members of the academy football team. The academy confirmed an investigation but declined further comment.

The allegations out of the nation's premier training ground for Navy and Marine Corps officers come as the military grapples with rising reports of sexual assaults within the ranks.

President Barack Obama raised the issue last month during his commencement address at the academy.

"Those who commit sexual assault are not only committing a crime, they threaten the trust and discipline that make our military strong," he told the Class of 2013. "That's why we have to be determined to stop these crimes, because they've got no place in the greatest military on Earth."

Based on surveys, the Pentagon estimated last month that as many as 26,000 service members across the military were sexually assaulted last year, up from 19,000 the year before.

The number of incidents reported to authorities rose to 3,374, up 6 percent from the year before.

That Pentagon report came days after the officer in charge of the Air Force sexual assault prevention and response program was charged with groping a woman in a Northern Virginia parking lot.

More than 30 instructors at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas have been investigated in a continuing probe of sexual misconduct involving more than 60 trainees. At least nine instructors have been convicted and sentenced to prison or hard labor.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has pledged more action on sexual assaults.

In the Thompson case, the alleged victim reported an assault to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service after visiting Thompson's apartment with another female midshipman following the croquet match on April 30, 2011, according to news coverage of a preliminary hearing.

The other female midshipman testified at that hearing that she and the alleged victim were "drunk" after drinking alcohol at the croquet match and an Annapolis restaurant, and that she, the alleged victim and Thompson played strip poker in his apartment, the news website military.com reported.

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