Mid fights expulsion on sex charges

He suspects racism

fellow student alleges rape in dormitory

`Two people getting drunk'

January 20, 1999|By Devon Spurgeon | Devon Spurgeon,SUN STAFF

A fourth-year midshipman is fighting expulsion from the Naval Academy on sex charges, claiming that though his encounter with a female midshipman in July was a drunken mistake, the recommended punishment is one-sided and racist.

Michael Pilson Jr., a 21-year-old history major who dreamed of becoming a Navy fighter pilot, is awaiting word at his Houston home from Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig, who has the final say on expulsions.

A fellow fourth-year student told Naval Academy officials she was raped in the Bancroft Hall dormitory after drinking heavily with Pilson and friends in downtown Annapolis. Pilson said he had consensual sex with her, which is a violation of academy policy prohibiting sexual intercourse on campus.

"It is completely ridiculous for her to say that I raped her when she initiated all that happened," said Pilson. "It is not fair. They tried to protect her at all costs."

Pilson, who is black, said that if officials ask him to leave, they should also discharge the white woman he had sex with. "I would hate to call it racism," he said. "But I was a real good midshipman. I had good grades. They were just so intent on kicking me out of school. They were not intent at looking at the situation as what it was -- two people getting drunk and making a mistake."

The academy denied that racism played any role in the decision to expel Pilson.

"Any allegation that the academy has been unfair is completely false," said Cmdr. Michael Brady, academy spokesman. "It does not consider factors such as gender and race in resolving misconduct cases. Each case represents specific and unique facts con- cerning the involved individuals."

With no witnesses, officials said, reconstructing what went on between Pilson and the female classmates is all but impossible. The academy decided not to proceed with criminal charges.

The Sun does not identify possible victims of sexual assault.

In Bancroft Hall, where the woman resided, even consensual sex is prohibited.

If Pilson is expelled, he will be expected to repay nearly $70,000 for their education.

In a highly publicized case last year, star football player Chris McCoy was spared expulsion because the sexual intercourse he had with an underclassman was off-campus. The woman and two other midshipmen she had intercourse with on campus were expelled.

Pilson hopes he will not be discharged or forced to repay his tuition.

"I am going to be a better person whatever happens," he said.

Pub Date: 1/20/99

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