The superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy on Friday dismissed charges against a former Navy football player who was one of three midshipmen originally accused in a high-profile sexual-assault case, The Washington Post reported.
The decision by the superintendent, Vice Adm. Michael H. Miller, came at the urging of prosecutors after the military judge overseeing the case ruled that statements the midshipman had made to investigators were inadmissible in the court-martial proceedings against him because the investigators had failed to read him his Miranda rights.
The midshipman, Eric Graham, a senior from Alabama, was one of three former Navy football players initially accused in the alleged rape of a female classmate at an off-campus party in 2012. After a preliminary hearing last summer, Admiral Miller dropped charges against one midshipman but chose to put Mr. Graham and another midshipman, Joshua Tate, a senior from Tennessee, on trial separately. The court-martial against Mr. Tate will proceed.
The decision came in a case that has, for some, come to symbolize the shortcomings of the military in handling sexual-assault cases. Admiral Miller’s actions in the case have been criticized by lawyers for the defendants and for the alleged victim, who have accused him of being more interested in safeguarding his career than ensuring justice.
The judge presiding in the court-martial, Col. Daniel Daugherty of the Marine Corps, has ordered the superintendent to appear on the stand this month to answer questions from defense lawyers about why he took the case to trial over the recommendations of his legal adviser and the military judge who heard evidence at a preliminary hearing. The defense lawyers contend that the decision was tainted by political considerations.
Lawyers for the accuser, meanwhile, expressed disappointment that the charges against Mr. Graham had been dropped, saying there was other evidence prosecutors could have used. “This case is being dismissed because of a technicality,” Ryan Guilds, one of her lawyers, told the Post. “That doesn’t take away from what happened here.”
The decision occurred on the same day that the Pentagon reported a drop in the number of reports of sexual assault at the nation’s military academies during the 2012-13 academic year. The total was 70 last year, down from 80 the year before.