Closing arguments today in Ronan case

November 08, 2007|By Josh Mitchell | Josh Mitchell,Sun reporter

WASHINGTON -- Testimony ended yesterday in the military trial of a Navy physician accused of secretly videotaping Naval Academy midshipmen having sex after prosecutors and defense attorneys argued over the doctor's whereabouts at the time gay pornography was downloaded to his computer.

Closing arguments are scheduled for this morning in the general court-martial of Cmdr. Kevin Ronan at the Washington Navy Yard. The 41-year-old Annapolis resident is charged with conduct unbecoming an officer, illegal wiretapping and obstruction of justice.

The defense rested Tuesday. Prosecutors recalled a computer specialist yesterday as a rebuttal witness in an attempt to discredit Ronan's claim that he was driving to work at the time a pornographic film was downloaded to his home computer.

Ronan has denied downloading any gay porn, saying he did not know who was responsible.

The film was downloaded about 4:50 a.m. Jan. 29 to a folder titled "Lectures," said the specialist, Michael Wavada of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

"Lectures" was written on one of the digital video discs of the midshipmen at the center of the case, and prosecutors say the word was Ronan's code for pornographic material of young, athletic men.

Ronan has contended that he arrived at his office in Washington at 5 a.m. Jan. 29 and that he was on the road at the time the porn was downloaded. Wavada told the six jurors yesterday that an analysis of Ronan's work computer showed that it was turned on at 7 a.m., about two hours later than the time Ronan said he sent his first e-mail of the day.

"I don't know how to explain Mr. Wavada's testimony that it was turned on at 7," Ronan said on the stand in response to a prosecutor's question.

In presenting their case last week, prosecutors never presented witnesses who said they saw Ronan - who hosted midshipmen in his house as part of a Naval Academy sponsor program - taping the midshipmen.

Instead, prosecutors relied on what they called "overwhelming" circumstantial evidence, such as the computer folder containing pornography and a handwriting expert who testified that Ronan wrote at least one label on a sexually explicit DVD of midshipmen.

Ronan is accused of using a camera hidden in an air purifier to record at least eight former or current midshipmen having sex with their partners and masturbating in two guest bedrooms in his home.

Ronan has denied being involved in making the tapes, and his lawyers have said that the videos are being used by midshipmen to extort money.

josh.mitchell@baltsun.com

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