A Navy doctor will face the most serious form of military trial on charges that he illegally shot videos of sex acts involving midshipmen he hosted in his Annapolis home, officials said yesterday.
Cmdr. Kevin Ronan, who also worked at the Naval Academy as a brigade medical officer and physician for several varsity sports teams, was charged Monday with seven counts of conduct unbecoming an officer, three counts of illegal wiretapping and one count of obstruction of justice.
If convicted on all charges at general court-martial, he could receive a maximum sentence of more than 10 years in a Navy brig.
William Ferris, his civilian attorney, has said Ronan was set up by a former midshipman who was trying to extort the doctor for money to attend another college. Ferris also has said the obstruction charge is unreasonable because Ronan had no idea his home would be searched.
Ferris said yesterday he is disappointed that the government is moving forward with the case. "I think that there are enormous credibility issues pertaining to the government's witnesses," he said.
In a preliminary hearing last month akin to a civilian grand jury, the former midshipman - whom The Sun is not naming because he is alleged to be the victim of a sex crime - testified that he found a suspicious digital video disc this year in Ronan's home while he was away.
When he watched it, he testified, he was stunned to see another midshipman he knew having sex with a woman. He and that midshipman, who has graduated, found a number of videotapes and DVDs in the house that showed midshipmen engaging in sexual acts. They also found a camera hidden in a dehumidifier that had a live feed to recording equipment and the television in the doctor's bedroom.
The Naval Academy graduate said on the stand that he went to authorities several days later.
Ronan, who since May has been assigned to the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in Washington, was a "sponsor" to midshipmen as part of an official Naval Academy program that sends students into the homes of host families in the community where they can rest on weekends and holidays. About a dozen students spent time at his home, and the former midshipman who discovered the first DVD moved in there temporarily after being expelled for poor grades.
Several attorneys representing midshipmen who claim they were taped have said they plan to sue.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.