Woman testifies that midshipman raped her

Defendant's lawyer calls the charges `incredible'

April 23, 2008|By Josh Mitchell | Josh Mitchell,Sun reporter

WASHINGTON -- A Naval Academy student testified in a military courtroom yesterday that a fellow midshipman entered her dormitory room after a night of drinking last fall and raped her. But the defendant's attorney called the charges "incredible," pointing out that there was no DNA evidence to support the charge.

The testimony was part of the first hearing for Mark A. Calvanico, 21, of Secaucus, N.J., a junior charged with rape, indecent assault, indecent acts and conduct unbecoming an officer.

Yesterday's Article 32 hearing at the Washington Navy Yard was held to determine whether Calvanico should face a court-martial. An Article 32 hearing is similar to a grand jury proceeding. The investigating officer will make a recommendation to Vice Adm. Jeffrey Fowler, the academy superintendent, who will decide whether the case goes to trial.

The accuser, a sophomore, said she met Calvanico through a friend. She and Calvanico became close, sent each other flirtatious messages and began talking about dating, she said. The Sun does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.

The woman wiped away tears and paused frequently as she described the predawn hours of Oct. 14, a Sunday, when, she said, Calvanico repeatedly visited her room. He had been drinking with friends in Annapolis and wanted to talk, but she wanted to sleep, she said. On his third visit, she was sleeping and awoke to find Calvanico on top of her, she said. He pinned her down and forced her to have sex despite her pleas to stop, she said.

"He was drunk, and he was very forceful," she said.

When the prosecutor, Navy Lt. Justin Henderson, asked her to be more specific about Calvanico's actions, she snapped, "He raped me. What do you want me to say?"

She said that when she told him to stop, he threatened to "do the same" to her roommate, who was in a bed across the room.

"I finally got my hands to where I could get him off of me, push him off my chest." He angrily kicked a chair across the room on his way out, she testified.

She said she reported the assault to a company officer that night.

Calvanico remained quiet throughout the hearing.

His civilian attorney called the woman's story "incredible," adding, "It makes no sense."

The attorney, Michael Waddington, said the lack of DNA evidence - a Navy investigator testified that no semen was found on the woman's body, clothing or sheets during an examination hours after the incident - made it impossible to believe her story. He also pointed out she had no bruises after the alleged struggle.

DNA from Calvanico and his accuser was found on his boxer shorts, a Navy Criminal Investigative Service agent testified.

Waddington said that his client has admitted making out and touching the accuser, but he said the contact was by mutual consent. He portrayed the accuser as a lovestruck woman who became hurt after Calvanico failed to show up to watch a movie the previous day.

When Calvanico returned to her room hours later, he was not looking for sex, Waddington said.

"He was just trying to schmooze his way in for, you know, a make-out session," Waddington told the investigating officer, Navy Lt. John Clady.

The attorney also pointed to testimony from the woman's roommate that she saw the two kissing earlier that night. The roommate said she was half-asleep and facing the other direction during the alleged assault but heard no cries from the accuser.

Clady repeatedly questioned the accuser. He pointed to discrepancies in her description of the alleged rape, and her testimony that she forgot what the pair had been talking about immediately before the incident. "You remember a lot, and then you forget a lot," Clady said.

Calvanico's mother and aunt testified that Calvanico has always been respectful and never got into trouble.

Calvanico is the most recent midshipman to be accused of sexual misconduct.

Former Navy quarterback Lamar S. Owens Jr. was acquitted of rape in July 2006 but found guilty of two lesser charges, including conduct unbecoming an officer, for having sex with a female midshipman in the academy dorm. He was expelled and ordered to repay more than $90,000 in education costs.

Kenny Ray Morrison, a backup football player, was sentenced last year to two years in a military prison for having sex with a female midshipman without her consent in a Washington hotel room in February 2006.

josh.mitchell@baltsun.com

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