6 midshipmen appealing expulsions

April 30, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

Six midshipmen who confessed their roles in the cheatin scandal that rocked the U.S. Naval Academy are appealing to the secretary of the Navy not to expel them.

Dismissing them for telling the truth about the stolen final exam would violate the academy's own honor principles, said William Ferris, attorney for four of the midshipmen.

Another midshipman said in an interview yesterday that he plans to tell the secretary of the Navy that "what I learned here is two negatives make a positive. If you cheat and you lie, you get off.

"I admitted that I used bad judgment," he said in a telephone interview. "What I want to do is point out some of the inconsistencies."

Twenty-eight juniors initially were accused of passing around stolen copies of the fall-semester final for Electrical Engineering 311, one of the toughest required courses at the academy. Honor boards found 11 of them guilty, but five were cleared by the commandant and superintendent.

Many midshipmen and faculty members have said that copies were widely circulated in Bancroft Hall, the dormitory in which all 4,200 midshipmen live, before the exam was given Dec. 14.

An academy chaplain wrote a letter March 31 to Capt. John Padgett, the commandant of midshipmen, expressing concern over the "extensive lying by several members of the brigade."

The Rev. J. William Hines wrote that he has spent hundreds of hours counseling students upset by the cheating scandal. In one case, he said, a student even received threatening phone calls from the parents of his roommates, who cheated.

The appeals from the six midshipmen must be filed today with the superintendent, Rear Adm. Thomas C. Lynch, who will forward them to the Department of the Navy.

Mr. Ferris, a 1970 academy graduate, argues his clients should be given a second chance because the honor system allows a midshipman to remain if he "has demonstrated potential to develop the proper sense of personal honor required of a commissioned officer before graduation."

The Annapolis attorney sent an earlier, 13-page letter to the superintendent arguing his clients followed the code, which states that midshipmen "do not lie, cheat or steal," by turning themselves in.

He also complained about possible "impropriety or the appearance of impropriety" when a varsity football player visited the superintendent's house the night before he was cleared of all charges by the commandant.

"I personally find it quite strange that a midshipman facing such a hearing would make a social visit anywhere the evening before, especially to your home, and, equally frankly, many people feel ,, that it is evidence that undue influence was, in fact, involved," he wrote in the letter obtained by The Sun.

The visit was strictly between the midshipman and the superintendent's son, an old friend, said Cmdr. Mike John, an academy spokesman.

When the superintendent told the brigade about the outcome of the cheating scandal last Thursday night, he emphasized that there had been no favoritism. His comments were met with jeers from several midshipmen, who chanted the football player's nick-name.

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