2 Navy athletes charged in rape

Football players accused of assaulting female midshipman

July 04, 2000|By Laura Sullivan, Laura Barnhardt and Andrea F. Siegel | Laura Sullivan, Laura Barnhardt and Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Two Naval Academy football players were charged yesterday with raping an unconscious female midshipman early Friday at an off-campus party in Arnold.

The accused - Cordrea Brittingham, a running back from the Eastern Shore town of Berlin, and Arion Keith Williams, a cornerback from Detroit - were ordered held on $250,000 bail and detained last night at the Anne Arundel County Detention Center in Annapolis.

According to court documents, Williams and Brittingham admitted having sex with the 20-year-old female student while she was "passed out" and "unconscious" from drinking heavily with a dozen others at the party in the 1400 block of Point Way Lane.

Williams was charged with second-degree rape, and second- and third-degree sex offenses, carrying maximum sentences totaling 50 years; Brittingham was charged with second-degree rape and a third-degree sex offense, with maximum penalties of 30 years.

The suspects - both 21 years old - were considered likely starters for the coming football season.

The female midshipman told police that about 10:30 p.m., after becoming intoxicated, she went to a bedroom to lie down - and awakened to find two men sexually assaulting her.

"She pushed [one male] off of her and sat up," according to a county police arrest report, which added, "The two males ran out of the room."

The woman checked herself into North Arundel Hospital, where she was treated and released several hours later. Sources familiar with the investigation said she showed signs of trauma and had a blood alcohol level of .11 - higher than the standard used in Maryland motor vehicle laws to define intoxication.

The Sun does not publish the names of rape victims.

The site of the party is a sweeping waterfront home that overlooks Chase Creek, and belongs to the parents of another midshipman, the sources said.

Another midshipman and fellow football player, Shaka Martin, a 21-year-old linebacker from Danville, Va., who was at the party, told police he walked into the room at some point during the evening and saw Williams having sex with the female midshipman, according to the arrest reported filed in District Court yesterday. Martin told police he "immediately closed the door" and left, according to the report.

Brittingham and Williams declined to comment yesterday afternoon as they awaited processing before a District Court commissioner in Annapolis, wearing khaki Naval Academy uniforms. When Williams sat down to sign that he understood the charges, he asked if he could call his mother, and asked how to go about getting a public defender.

The two changed out of their uniforms into shorts and T-shirts in a back room before being taken, handcuffed, to the detention center in separate unmarked police cars.

Academy spokeswoman Lt. Karen M. Armstrong declined to comment on the charges or what actions the Navy might take against any of the midshipmen, including the female midshipman, who admitted to police that she was drinking underage.

"Since this matter is still under investigation by state authorities, it would be inappropriate for the Naval Academy to discuss the allegations or details of this case," Armstrong said.

Brittingham, known as "Dre," is "one of the team's top athletes," according to the team's guide, and is well-known in his hometown of Berlin as an outstanding athlete.

Yesterday his mother, Teola Brittingham, reached by phone at her home, said, "I can't believe it. Something seems wrong about this. I know all parents say it couldn't be their child. But he's never been any trouble. Never.

"I know the kids party," she said. "But I can't see my son doing anything like this. As a woman, I hurt for [the victim]. But as a mother, I hurt for my son. I need to see him. We love him. I'm putting my faith in the Lord."

Brittingham's father, Elroy, is a Berlin town councilman.

Patrick and Zelda Henry, who have known Brittingham and his family for years, said people in their community are devastated by the news.

"He's one of the biggest hometown heroes," Patrick Henry said. "It's like a nightmare."

Brittingham was a four-year letterman in basketball as a point guard and three-year letterman in football as a running back at Stephen Decatur High School.

His high school coach, Bob Knox, said none of the allegations fits with his history, adding that he was a role model for kids in the area.

"He showed them what you could accomplish with hard work on the field and in the classroom," Knox said.

Williams, known as "Bas," was compared to Naval Academy football stars Robert Green and Sean Andrews, who started in the 1996 Aloha Bowl game. A big hitter, Williams is also known for his speed.

He lettered in football as a defensive back for Radford High in Detroit and earlier for Bastrop High in Bastrop, La.

Sun staff writers Amy Oakes, Chris Guy, Stephanie Hanes and Kent Baker contributed to this article.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.