US Naval Academy sexual assault hearing nears end

WASHINGTON — An investigator testified Tuesday that the woman at the center of a Naval Academy sexual assault case said in an interview that she couldn’t remember whether sexual encounters with the men charged in the case were consensual or not.

Special Agent Michelle Robinson spoke from Bahrain by video teleconference in the Article 32 hearing at the Washington Navy Yard to help determine whether three U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen will face a court-martial. The former football players are accused of sexually assaulting or abusing the woman at an off-campus party in 2012.

Robinson testified that the woman at the center of the case told her in an interview that she was unsure whether she consented to sexual encounters with the men.

The woman has said she drank heavily and has no memory of having sex with the midshipmen, but became concerned after hearing gossip shortly after the party that she had had sex with multiple people. The Associated Press generally doesn’t name those who authorities say were victims of sexual assault.

The hearing could be wrapped up Tuesday, a week after it began. After the hearing, the presiding investigative officer will review evidence and make a recommendation to the academy’s superintendent. Such reviews generally take days or weeks to complete.

On Monday, lawyers questioned students who attended a toga party last year about how intoxicated the woman appeared to be. One said the woman was slurring, while another didn’t remember her seeming as drunk.

Midshipmen Tre’vas Bush and Josh Tate have been charged with aggravated sexual assault in the case. Midshipman Eric Graham has been charged with abusive sexual contact.

The Article 32 hearing at the Washington Navy Yard began last Tuesday.

The case has drawn attention as the White House, Congress and the Pentagon have been focusing on the issue of sexual assault after a string of cases in the military this year. President Barack Obama highlighted the importance of the issue at the Naval Academy’s graduation ceremony in May.

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