Secret video of mids alleged

Navy doctor accused of taping midshipmen having sex in his home

May 02, 2007|By Bradley Olson | Bradley Olson,sun reporter

A Navy doctor who regularly acted as a chaperon for the Naval Academy men's gymnastics team is being investigated by the military on allegations that he made secret video recordings of midshipmen having sex in his Annapolis-area home, several legal and Navy sources familiar with the investigation said yesterday.

Cmdr. Kevin Ronan, a physician stationed at the academy until May 2006, has been accused of setting up hidden video cameras and recording students but has not been charged with a crime, the sources said. Ronan was a volunteer in the school's sponsor program, hosting students on holidays and weekends.

His lawyer, William Ferris, said he had advised Ronan not to make any statements, and a call made to the doctor's Annapolis home early last night was not immediately returned. Ferris declined further comment.

Ed Buice, spokesman for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, said the agency "is looking into allegations of misconduct by a [Naval Academy] sponsor," but he would not elaborate.

The investigation of Ronan is likely to conclude in a month, said Guy Schein, spokesman for the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in Washington, where Ronan has been stationed since May 2006 working on military medical policy issues. Schein declined further comment.

The investigation was triggered when a male midshipman reported finding a video disc at Ronan's house that showed the midshipman having sex with his girlfriend, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation.

Charles Gittins, a Naval Academy graduate and Virginia-based attorney who specializes in military cases, said he was contacted by the family of a female midshipman who said that she was videotaped in Ronan's home without her knowledge. He declined to say what was on the tape.

"We don't have the videos," he said. "We believe it would have been a situation which a reasonable person would believe would be kept private between two people."

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is working together on the case with the Anne Arundel County Police Department and the two agencies jointly searched Ronan's home for evidence, legal sources said.

A spokesman for the county Police Department did not return a call for comment yesterday.

Despite the involvement of local police, the military will maintain jurisdiction, legal sources said.

Gittins said Ronan could be charged with violating a Maryland statute forbidding unauthorized, illicit video surveillance under the Federal Assimilative Crimes Act, which allows federal authorities to pursue state charges on matters in which they retain jurisdiction. He said that he was unaware of any comparable crime in the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Visual surveillance of a nude person without his or her consent is illegal in Maryland. It is a misdemeanor that carries a possible one-year jail sentence and $2,500 fine, said Kristin Riggin, spokeswoman for the Anne Arundel County state's attorney's office.

Riggin declined to comment on the investigation but said making such recordings is against the law "even if it's in the camera user's own home."

Ronan could also be charged by the military with conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, which could result in a year in jail and discharge from the Navy if convicted, Gittins said.

The Naval Academy has been reeling in the past few years from a series of sexual misconduct scandals, including two rape trials against former football players, one of which resulted in a conviction for indecent assault. In the second case, the player was acquitted of rape but found guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer. In addition, a military professor was court-martialed for using sexually explicit language in front of a female midshipman but was exonerated.

The allegations against Ronan were first reported yesterday in The Capital. According to documents obtained by the Annapolis newspaper, a midshipman on Jan. 30 found a concealed video camera in an air vent while he was changing clothes in the guest room in Ronan's home and reported the matter to the academy.

While stationed at the academy, Ronan was the brigade medical officer, served on an "eating disorders and treatment team" and was an officer representative for the men's gymnastics team. Ronan also worked as a team physician for Naval Academy athletics, sources said.

brad.olson@baltsun.com

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