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Alleged Navy football sexual assault victim drunk, not out of control, friends testify

Sexual MisconductSexual AssaultAssaultUnited States Naval AcademyU.S. Department of DefenseWashington Navy Yard

Friends of the woman at the center of a sexual assault investigation involving three members of the Naval Academy football team testified Monday that she appeared intoxicated on the night of the alleged attacks.

But none of the witnesses at a preliminary hearing Monday said the female midshipman was so drunk at an off-campus party that it became necessary to intervene, to stop her from drinking or to take her home.

The woman has said she remembers little of the April 2012 night during which the three fellow midshipmen are alleged to have engaged in sexual acts with her while she was incapacitated.

She testified last week that she drank alcohol before and during the party, and that she was able to piece together what might have happened only from rumors around the academy and postings on social media.

Vice Adm. Michael Miller, the academy superintendent, ordered the Article 32 hearing to help determine whether to proceed with charges against the football players.

Tra'ves Bush, 22, and Joshua Tate, 21, could be charged with aggravated sexual assault. Eric Graham, 21, could be charged with abusive sexual contact. All three could be charged with making false official statements.

Bush, Tate and Graham have not testified during the hearing or commented publicly on the allegations.

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

The proceeding, which opened last week at the Washington Navy Yard, comes amid rising concern over sexual assaults within the military. The Pentagon estimates as many as 26,000 service members were sexually assaulted last year, up from 19,000 the year before.

Testimony on Monday focused on the alleged victim's condition at the alcohol-fueled party at the Annapolis house known to midshipmen as the Black Pineapple or the Football House — and on her recollections the next day.

Christa Kamon, a senior who described herself as a close friend of the alleged victim, said she saw the obviously drunken woman fall while dancing at the party and helped her up. Kamon asked her whether she was all right, and she said she was fine.

Kamon said that was the last she saw of the woman that night. The next day, Kamon testified, the woman called her and asked: "What happened last night? Where am I?"

An attorney for Bush asked Kamon why she had not mentioned to investigators that the woman was disoriented the next day. Attorney Andrew Weinstein asked Kamon if she was now trying to help her friend.

Kamon responded that she was trying to answer questions to the best of her ability.

Senior Mitchell Kempisty, another friend of the accuser, testified that he saw her at about 2 a.m. humorously rebuffing the persistent advances of an unidentified civilian outside the Football House. Kempisty said the woman did not appear incapacitated.

But senior Candice Tisdale said the alleged victim was drunk at the party, and the next afternoon was "still not 100 percent."

Senior Kenyon Williams described himself as one of the woman's best friends at the academy. According to a statement presented in court by Weinstein, he told investigators in May 2012 that she told him the day after the alleged attacks: "What I did last night, I did it, and I wanted to do it."

But on the witness stand Monday, Williams said he didn't remember the woman making such a statement, and didn't recall telling investigators about it. He said he couldn't say what she might have meant by it.

Senior Jasmine Sarjeant, who was also at the party, said the woman told her the next day that she was expecting to hear gossip about herself.

Tisdale said she helped counsel the woman after the alleged attacks and accompanied her to meetings with the Naval Criminal Investigation Service.

At one point, Tisdale testified, she and the woman tried to determine exactly whom the woman had had sex with that night. Tisdale said they concluded the sex with Bush had likely been consensual because it had happened early in the night, and the pair had had sex before.

The alleged victim testified last week that she had no memory of sexual acts with any of the three accused midshipmen.

She said Tate told her that he had had sex with her, and that she heard of Bush boasting on Facebook about having had sex with her that night.

The woman said she filed an assault report at the urging of a fellow student and volunteered to accept punishment for underage drinking.

The hearing is scheduled to continue on Tuesday. At the conclusion, Cmdr. Robert P. Monahan Jr., the investigating officer who has been presiding over the proceeding, will present his findings to Miller, the academy superintendent.

Miller will decide whether to refer the accused to a court-martial, order administrative sanctions or dismiss the charges.

None of the accused are now on the football team. Bush has completed the academic requirements for graduation, but his commissioning in May was put on hold pending the outcome of the case. Graham is a senior, and Tate is a junior.

matthew.brown@baltsun.com

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Sexual MisconductSexual AssaultAssaultUnited States Naval AcademyU.S. Department of DefenseWashington Navy Yard
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