Military prosecutors could seek dismissal of Naval Academy assault case

Military prosecutors are seeking to dismiss charges against one of the Naval Academy midshipmen accused of sexually assaulting a female classmate, according to the woman's attorney.

Midshipman Eric Graham, a senior from Eight Mile, Ala., is facing a court-martial this month on charges of abusive sexual contact and making a false statement in connection with the alleged assault at an off-campus party in 2012.


But prosecutors lost the use of key evidence in pre-trial hearings and will ask the Naval Academy superintendent to drop the case, said Ryan Guilds, a Washington attorney who represents the woman.

Guilds said certain statements by Graham to Navy investigators were ruled inadmissible because he had not been read his Miranda rights. Guilds said he believes the case is strong enough to go to trial even without those statements and is disappointed in the prosecutors' decision.

Prosecutors informed his client of their decision Thursday, Guilds said. He said she objects to a dismissal of the case.

The Baltimore Sun does not identify the alleged victims of sexual assault.

Guilds said he's asked for a meeting with Vice Adm. Michael H. Miller, the academy's superintendent, to make a case for prosecution. Under military law, the decision whether to prosecute criminal cases rests with the commanding officer.

Cmdr. John Schofield, an academy spokesman, said Thursday that Miller had not been officially notified of the prosecutors' request.

Graham's attorney, Ronald "Chip" Herrington of Mobile, Ala., said he had not been officially notified, but hopes Miller agrees to drop the case.

A report by the military judge who presided over an investigative hearing last year has not been made public, but Herrington said the judge recommended against prosecution. Herrington filed a motion to dismiss the case last week.


"We hope that this time, Vice Admiral Miller makes his decision in the interest of justice rather than the interest of public relations," Herrington said.

Graham is one of three former Naval Academy football players who were accused of sexual assault against a female classmate at an off-campus party house in April 2012.

After reviewing the findings of the eight-day Article 32 hearing, Miller declined to pursue charges against Tra'ves Bush, who later graduated and was commissioned as an ensign in the Navy.

Graham was officially charged, as was Midshipman Joshua Tate, a junior from Nashville, Tenn., who faces a court-martial in February on counts of aggravated sexual assault and making a false statement.

The case has drawn attention from victims' advocates and lawmakers who want to overhaul the military justice system. They want to take the authority to send suspects to court-martial away from commanding officers and give it to trained prosecutors.

Attorneys for the alleged victim have said Miller could be influenced by how his decisions might be perceived by the public and his superiors. Miller is expected to testify in pretrial hearings next week on whether he was influenced improperly in the case.


The woman testified during the Article 32 hearing that she had only foggy memories of the night, but learned later through classmates and social media that she might have had sexual contact with fellow midshipmen.

Nancy Parrish, president of the advocacy group Protect Our Defenders, issued a statement Thursday criticizing the "botched investigation" and the push to dismiss charges in the case.

"This is yet another shocking example of why we need fundamental reform," Parrish said. "We are devastated for the victim and her family that she may not see justice for her assault."