August 20, 2006

LAST WEEK'S ISSUE: -- Though former Navy football star Lamar S. Owens Jr. was acquitted of rape charges, he isn't in the clear. Vice Adm. Rodney P. Rempt, the Naval Academy superintendent, must decide whether to graduate him and give him a commission or expel him for violating academy rules and saddle him with $140,000 in debt and no degree. What should Rempt do?

There is no winner in this case

Owens broke the rules, got caught, brought public scandal to the Naval Academy, dishonored his uniform and was found guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer. There is no difficult decision to be made in this case. He cannot graduate or be commissioned an officer in the Navy. The young woman in this case lost her credibility by her own drunken behavior that fateful night. A reality check would tell you, though immune from prosecution, she still has to serve six years among her peers, which can be far more punishing than any court. There is no winner here! Neither escapes the consequences of their own actions. However, they can recover. The public needs to butt out. The Naval Academy needs to enhance its efforts at gender sensitivity training and strengthening honor codes of behavior for all midshipmen.

Maryellen O. Brady Edgewater

Owens should graduate, serve

Owens should be allowed to graduate and receive his commission. Having followed this case closely, I think this would be the only fair decision.

William B. Ray Odenton

He needs to repay taxpayers for school

Recently and unbelievably, the Naval Academy expelled Frank Shannon for failing the physical readiness test by 20 seconds. He was denied graduation and has to pay back the full tuition. To think that it is remotely possible for Owens to graduate and be commissioned is an absolute absurdity. Owens may have been acquitted of rape, but he certainly is a man who lacks character. To think that my tax dollars would give him his diploma is a disgrace! He needs to pay it back and seek a diploma elsewhere.

Judith P. Moylan-Forman Severna Park

Both should be held accountable

I believe all of the information stating Owens is a nice, warm, considerate individual of high morals and sterling character. I don't think it was his intent to molest anyone before he picked up the first drink. However, the Navy must judge him on his actions, not his intentions. Owens may not have been responsible because of being under the influence of a mind altering drug, but he must be held accountable. The penalties ought to be what is called for in Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The young lady is a different story. She has a track record of violating state laws by drinking underage in local bars. She also has a history of binge-drinking and blacking-out. Her performance of trying to entrap Owens into self-incriminating testimony is not exactly stuff of an honor code. Her covering her own backside with immunity deals was very clever. I do believe, though, she should be forced into an alcoholic rehab facility.

Robert F. Eicher Annapolis

Owens deserves appropriate penalty

Some first-time, life-altering incidents/mistakes deserve a conviction, life in prison, and even death - not the case with Owens. Owens' first-time mistake (consensual sex with an underclass mid inside Bancroft Hall) deserves a punishment not more than other mids who have had consensual sex with mids inside Bancroft Hall - especially upperclassmen with underclassmen. He should be allowed to graduate. Recommendations to Rempt:

Conduct private commissioning service.

Delay assignment to the fleet.

Send for special training in counseling.

Temporarily assign to the Naval Academy Preparatory School (after completion of counseling/training) to provide counseling services for potential young student athletes bound for the Naval Academy.

Drexel King Raleigh, NC

Female mids need same standards

Owens should be allowed to graduate and receive his commission. Owens was found not guilty of rape. From what I have read, there was very little evidence to support a rape charge. However, the female midshipman was admittedly drunk and underage for purchasing alcohol that same night. She has been immune from punishment for her actions. I feel that females need to be held to as high a standard as the males at the Naval Academy. Her name has not been made public and her reputation, as far as the public is concerned, appears to be intact while Owens has been on trial publicly.

Angela Lowe Annapolis

Owens punished; give him a degree

Rempt must respect and heed the clear message sent by the jury composed of USNA staff. Owens has suffered enough, and I think it would be outrageous to punish him in any way given that several midshipmen, and in particular the alleged victim, were given immunity as to various serious rules infractions in order to facilitate their testimony against Owens. Basically, the academy responded energetically to the accusations and took its best shot at Owens; it would be a travesty to impose any more misery upon him. Zero tolerance of sexual misconduct is fully served by subjecting an accused to a criminal trial, with an array of immunized witnesses enabled to testify against him without fear of retribution. Enough is enough - Owens should receive the degree and commission ... , just like the other participants in this fiasco.

Scott Carnes Virginia Beach, Va.

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