The Naval Academy Football Rape Cases

[TW: rape, gang rape]

At the Atlantic today, I have a piece on NCAA regulations, hostess programs, and gang rape in college football. I’m supplementing that article here on Power Forward.

1: The Vanderbilt Football Rape Case

And now, the Naval Academy football rape cases.

Here is what I wrote in the Atlantic piece:

And at the Naval Academy, three players are on trial for allegedly raping a female midshipman at an off-campus party in 2012. The Navy case is almost identical to an incident that happened there in 2001: Three football players were accused of gang-raping a woman off campus but no charges were pressed. Instead, the men were “kicked off the team” and “avoided criminal prosecution by agreeing to resign from the academy.”

I simply cannot get over that the 2012 case is nearly identical to the 2001.

The three defendants in the 2012 case are cornerback Eric Graham of Eight Mile, Ala., safety Tra’ves Bush of Johnston, S.C., and linebacker Josh Tate of Nashville.

According to The Washington Post, the accuser is still at the Naval Academy alongside Graham and Tate.

The three men are accused of sexually assaulting the midshipman at an April 2012 off-campus party. […]

The Naval Academy superintendent, Vice Adm. Michael H. Miller, agreed in June to bring charges against the former football players. The woman’s attorney, Susan Burke, criticized the delay, saying academy officials had failed to protect the accuserfrom intimidation by her alleged attackers and were slow to investigate. People familiar with the case said the accuser did not cooperate fully at first, which hindered the investigation.

The accuser — who remains at the academy, as do Graham and Tate — did not immediately report the alleged assault. But allegations, posted by other students on social-media sites, began circulating after the party, Burke said.

The accuser went public with her allegations in the spring.

At RH Reality Check, Erin Matson compiled “The 8 Worst Parts of the Recent Naval Academy Rape Hearing.” Matson describes what the cross-examination of the victim was like:

Recently, attorneys defending three former Naval Academy football players against allegations of sexual assault at an off-campus party spent more than 20 hours over five grueling days questioning, taunting, blaming, shaming, and what appears to be re-victimizing a 21-year-old female midshipman.

At one point, the midshipman said she was too exhausted to continue testifying and the commander presiding over the hearing granted her a day off. “This is borderline abusive,” her attorney Susan Burke said upon leaving the Navy Yard that day. Abusive, yes, and sadly all too instructive in how rape culture encourages attorneys, members of the media, and others to turn sexual assault victims into the accused.

According to Matson: “A decision is forthcoming as to whether this specific case at the Naval Academy will proceed against the defendants, and it’s also up for grabs whether the U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent will be removed from the case.” The victim is also“suing the academy and its superintendent, arguing that he must remove himself from the case.”

As for the 2001 case at the Naval Academy, the three accused men were Cordrea Brittingham, Shaka Amin Martin, and Arion Keith Williams:

The woman who told police she awoke from a drunken stupor to find naked men on top of her remains at the academy, clinging to the remnants of her privacy and wrestling with doubts about agreeing to the deal, according to her mother. She declined to be interviewed for this story but allowed her mother to speak for her.

The mother said her daughter felt compelled to agree to the deal because defense attorneys were poring over her sexual history, pushing for school records and a psychiatric evaluation.

“They were emotionally stalking my daughter, asking for all those things,” her mother said. If only “there were some way it could have been prosecuted without my daughter being put on trial.”

Finally, there is a larger history of rape and the coverup or dismissal of the claims of victims at the Naval Academy and in the military more generally.