Navy begins probe of mid 3 female midshipmen make accusations of sexual assault

Alcohol considered factor

Incidents allegedly occurred last month in Bancroft Hall dorm

November 22, 1997|By Neal Thompson | Neal Thompson,SUN STAFF

Naval investigators have launched an Article 32 probe, the Navy's equivalent to a grand jury, into allegations that a male midshipman at the Naval Academy, after a night of drinking, crawled into the beds of two female midshipmen and assaulted them.

Navy lawyers will conduct hearings in the next few weeks before a magistrate in Washington.

Based on the findings, Adm. Charles R. Larson, academy superintendent, will decide on possible discipline for the midshipman, who could be expelled, court-martialed or could receive a lesser administrative punishment on misconduct charges.

This is the third time in three years that sexual assault allegations have been lodged against male midshipmen, and all three cases are similar.

In 1995, sophomore Stephen J. Ciccarelli was accused of entering three women's rooms while drunk and assaulting them. And last year, the academy's third-ranking midshipman, Scott T. Ward, was accused by four female midshipmen of entering their rooms and demanding sex. Ciccarelli and Ward were expelled.

After the incidents involving Ward, the academy's reversed its long-standing policy of requiring dormitory rooms to remain unlocked.

Capt. Tom Jurkowsky, the academy spokesman, said an Article 32 investigation is warranted in this case "because of the potential that serious criminal activity had occurred and might need to be resolved by a court-martial. I think it sends a signal that we don't tolerate that type of behavior at the Naval Academy or in the Navy."

The midshipman being investigated -- a senior whom academy officials declined to name -- allegedly entered the room of a female midshipman, a junior, at 2 a.m. Oct. 18 and, while she was sleeping, slipped into bed with her and fondled her.

Another female midshipmen, also a junior, alleged that the senior did the same thing to her at 3 a.m. Oct. 19.

Jurkowsky said neither of the women was injured.

A third female complained later that the midshipman entered her room uninvited that weekend, but did not touch her.

In all three cases, the midshipman apparently was intoxicated.

"There appears to clearly be alcohol involved," Jurkowsky said.

The accused midshipman, who was in the same military company as his accusers, has been transferred to another company and moved to a different section of Bancroft Hall, the huge dormitory that houses all academy students, pending the outcome of the investigation, academy officials said.

Jurkowsky said the midshipman is going to class, but he is not permitted to leave the academy grounds during the investigation and is forbidden to have contact with his accusers.

The academy has created a Sex Assault Victim Intervention Program, Jurkowsky said, but he did not think either woman had sought counseling or assistance.

"I think everybody in this case seems to be OK," he said.

But he said the women's willingness to bring their complaints at the male-dominated academy -- where men outnumber women, 3,374 to 620 -- was a sign that "they have a level of confidence that when they make allegations, they're going to be investigated and followed through."

Pub Date: 11/22/97

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