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Academy sex assault case belongs in criminal court

Justice SystemUnited States Naval Academy

Susan Burke, the attorney representing the victim of an alleged rape at the U.S. Naval Academy, recently filed an action in federal court to bar the academy's superintendent from deciding whether the case proceeds to a court-martial ("Lawsuit seeks removal of Naval Academy superintendent from sex assault case," Sept. 5).

The suit alleges he should be removed due to bias because, among other things, he did not make the hearing officer stop abusive questioning of the alleged victim.

Ms. Burke and others claim the military legal system is unduly harsh on sex crime victims. There is a simple solution for this: Demand that the Anne Arundel County state's attorney's office bring charges against the three football players, since that is the county where the off-campus football house, the alleged crime scene, is located.

County State's Attorney Anne Colt Leitess heads that office. It is not double jeopardy for both Maryland and the military to prosecute. The grand jury hearing would be a cake walk, since only a state's attorney will question the victim and that might not even be necessary since prosecutors can take testimony from other witnesses and existing witness statements.

An indictment would be almost guaranteed since the burden of proof required for an indictment is low. The trial would be before a civilian judge and jury.

Wayne L. Johnson, Alexandria, Va.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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