Midshipman arraigned on assault charges

Former football player does not enter a plea

defense might ask that charges be dropped

January 30, 2007|By Bradley Olson | Bradley Olson,sun reporter

WASHINGTON -- A former Naval Academy football player was arraigned yesterday on two counts each of indecent assault and conduct unbecoming an officer stemming from separate incidents in February and April last year.

In what his civilian attorney called "a legal technicality," Kenny Ray Morrison, 24, did not enter a plea on the four charges, leaving open the possibility that his defense team will ask for the charges to be dismissed.

Meanwhile, an academy spokeswoman acknowledged that "there have been a number of meetings" in recent days involving former standout quarterback Lamar S. Owens Jr., who was acquitted of rape in July but convicted of two minor charges. Although a jury sentenced him to "no punishment," he could still be expelled from the academy and be forced to repay the cost of his education.

Spokeswoman Deborah Goode declined in an e-mail to elaborate on the meetings or disclose who has been involved.

Owens and Morrison, a backup linebacker, were not allowed to graduate with their class in May and have been temporarily reassigned to the Washington Navy Yard pending the outcome of their cases.

Vice Adm. Rodney P. Rempt, the Naval Academy superintendent, has declined to recuse himself from deciding Owens' fate or from his supervisory role in Morrison's trial. Rempt has aggressively sought to stamp out sexual misconduct, and defense lawyers and alumni have accused him of bias toward the accusers.

"I think all the charges should be dropped," William Ferris, Morrison's Annapolis-based lawyer who has repeatedly called for Rempt to withdraw from the case, said after the arraignment. "I do not think they can prove any of these charges. I never have."

Morrison's trial is scheduled for April 2, pending numerous preliminary hearings.

The Kingwood, Texas, native could face a maximum of 12 years in prison on the charges, which were downgraded to indecent assault Jan. 19 after an expert witness discredited date-rape evidence in an investigative hearing last month.

According to charging documents and previous court testimony, a female midshipman said Morrison raped her repeatedly Feb. 4 in a Washington hotel room where a group of football teammates and others had gathered to drink and party. The woman, who acknowledged drinking that night, said she resisted Morrison's advances and asked him to stop several times.

Another female midshipman, who graduated last year and was compelled to testify by prosecutors, said she blacked out after drinking five beers at an Annapolis restaurant on April 21, the last provided by Morrison. She said she woke up naked the next morning alongside him at a local residence she did not recognize. The woman testified that she did not remember how she got there but does not believe she would have consented to sex.

The Sun does not identify women who allege sexual assault.

bradley.olson@baltsun.com

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.