Ala. senator takes on academy probers

January 28, 1994|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,Staff Writer

Saying the initial investigation into the biggest cheating scandal in the history of the U.S. Naval Academy was "botched," an Alabama senator announced yesterday that he will hold a congressional hearing on the probe next week.

Sen. Richard C. Shelby, an Alabama Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services' personnel subcommittee, said the hearing will focus on the cheating scandal and whether it was mishandled by the academy administration.

"It looks to me like the investigation was botched," said Mr. Shelby, who called last spring for the Navy's Inspector General (IG) to look into the academy's handling of the scandal. "We cannot have that. We will not condone that."

The IG report released earlier this week implicated 133 midshipmen in the distribution of an advance copy of a December 1992 electrical engineering exam. The initial academy probe implicated 28 midshipmen. Eleven were found guilty by midshipmen honor boards, and six were recommended for dismissal.

But some midshipmen complained later that not all the guilty were caught. Those who told the truth were dismissed, they said, while those who lied went free. News reports spurred the senator to request a more thorough probe.

The IG report said academy officers did not act in a timely manner when new evidence of cheating came to light. They also withheld information from midshipmen honor boards, a move that "constituted mismanagement," the report said.

The report also said the academy's superintendent, Rear Adm. Thomas C. Lynch, created a "perception" that he was not committed to the school's strict honor code and that he favored members of the football team throughout the initial probe.

The Senate hearing also is expected to look into the honor codes at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs.

In addition, the subcommittee is expected to receive a report from the General Accounting Office on sexual harassment at the service academies. The report was requested by Senator Shelby after a 1989 incident at the Naval Academy in which a female sophomore was handcuffed to a urinal by male midshipmen.

The hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday in Room 106 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

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