A Navy investigative officer this week found probable cause to support a charge that a former top-ranking midshipman leader committed indecent assault against a woman midshipman.
However, he found insufficient evidence to support more serious charges involving other women midshipmen.
The investigative officer, Lt. Cmdr. L. Lynn Jowers, on Wednesday found probable cause to charge Midshipman 1st Class Scott T. Ward with one count of indecent assault and two counts of unlawful entry into midshipmen's rooms. A final count involves approaching a witness, allegedly telling her to say she consented to his behavior, according to Ward's attorney, William B. Cummings of Alexandria, Va.
Cummings said Jowers did not find probable cause to support the more serious charges: two counts of nonconsensual sex, as well as disobeying an order, after he approached some of his accusers when he was told not to talk to them.
Ward was accused of sexual assault last month by four women midshipmen -- three seniors and a sophomore -- with the most recent charges involving an alleged incident last month, academy officials said. After the charges were filed, Ward was accused of approaching some of his accusers and immediately was taken from the academy to the Marine brig at Quantico, Va.
"We're very glad we don't have the more serious charges," said Cummings after the Article 32 hearing, the military's equivalent of a grand jury, which was held at the Washington Navy Yard.
Noel Milan, an academy spokesman, said no comment would be made until the academy superintendent, Adm. Charles R. Larson, reviews the investigator's report and recommendations from his staff lawyer.
The admiral can recommend a court martial or a conduct hearing that neither take place.
"I know it's an important case, and he'll turn to it as quickly as he can," Milan said.
Ward, of Grand Rapids, Mich., was a regimental leader, the third-ranking position among midshipmen, when he was arrested April 4. He is being held at a Navy facility in Washington.
It is highly unusual for a midshipman leader to be removed from a position or accused of wrongdoing. The top midshipmen serve as liaisons between the 4,000-member brigade and superior officers. They are selected for their grades, community service and leadership qualities.
Navy and academy sources labelled Ward as a "Jekyll and Hyde." Cummings said his client is a "natural leader" who had prior relationships with his accusers.
Pub Date: 5/10/96