WASHINGTON — A defense attorney on Friday spent hours questioning a midshipman’s spotty recollections of a toga party where she says she was sexually assaulted by three Naval Academy football players last year.
Attorney Lt. Cmdr. Angela Tang noted inconsistencies in what the 21-year-old senior told Navy investigators last year and how she is recalling the April 2012 off-campus party now during a military court hearing.
The woman has testified repeatedly over three days on the stand that she had been drinking before and during the party in Annapolis, Md., and has no memory of having sex with any of the three accused.
She said she only learned of what happened after hearing gossip that she had slept with multiple partners at the house where football players gathered. That prompted her to ask one of the accused, Midshipman Josh Tate, 21, whether they had sex that night. She testified that he told her that they had. He also told her she had a sexual encounter with another one of the accused, Midshipman Eric Graham.
Tang, who is representing the 21-year-old Graham, noted that the woman testified she had consensual sex the morning after the party in the house with another football player. Tang then asked graphic questions about how oral sex is performed.
“This is an act that cannot be performed while someone is passed out,” Tang said, arguing that her client could not have had oral sex performed without her consent.
Midshipman Tra’ves Bush, 22, also has been charged in the case.
The Associated Press generally does not name alleged victims of sexual assault.
The woman has been testifying at a hearing to determine whether the men will face a court-martial.
The woman says she initially did not want to cooperate with investigators, because she did not know what happened the night of the party. But she changed her mind months later out of concern some could be wrongly accused.
At first, she testified, she held back details from investigators.
“I was trying to not give them information,” she said.
The woman also says she would be happy if it is determined she was not assaulted.
The hearing at the Washington Navy Yard has dragged, largely due to repeated questioning by lawyers from three defense teams about details the woman says she has little, if any, memory. The hearing is scheduled to continue into the Labor Day holiday weekend.
After the hearing, investigating officer Cmdr. Robert Monahan will refer recommendations about whether the case should proceed to a court-martial. The academy’s superintendent will make that decision after reviewing the report.
The case has drawn attention as the White House, Congress and the Pentagon have been focusing on the issue of sexual assault after a strong 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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