Drop rape charges vs. Mid, officer says

Report urges hearing on lesser offenses for lack of evidence

May 20, 2008|By Josh Mitchell | Josh Mitchell,SUN REPORTER

An investigating officer for the Navy has recommended dropping rape charges against a Naval Academy student accused of assaulting a female midshipman in her dormitory room, pointing to what he called "an almost complete lack of physical evidence" in the case.

Midshipman Mark A. Calvanico, 21, of Secaucus, N.J., should not face a court-martial, Lt. John E. Clady wrote in a May 5 report, released yesterday by the defendant's lawyer. Clady instead recommended an administrative hearing for Calvanico that could result in his dismissal from the academy for failing to meet curfew, being drunk and disorderly, and other offenses.

Clady's recommendation is being reviewed by the academy's superintendent, Vice Adm. Jeffrey L. Fowler, who will decide where the case should go.

"We felt like the truth came out. We were ecstatically happy," said Calvanico's aunt, Regina Durazzo, speaking on behalf of the family. "I just hope the academy and the superintendent does the right thing and dismisses the charges and we can wake up from this nightmare."

Calvanico, a junior, is accused of entering the room of a sophomore three times in the pre-dawn hours of a Sunday in October, raping her on the last visit.

The accuser, a sophomore, testified at a hearing in April that she and Calvanico had talked about dating and sent each other flirtatious messages.

In his recommendation based on that hearing, Clady, who presided over the April Article 32 hearing, pointed out that the only physical evidence presented by prosecutors was the woman's DNA found on Calvanico's boxers and his DNA found on her neck. He said that evidence supported Calvanico's claim that he and the woman had consensual contact but no physical sex.

"Because of the almost complete lack of physical evidence linking MIDN Calvanico to the alleged sexual offenses, there are no reasonable grounds to believe MIDN Calvanico committed rape," Clady wrote.

A spokesman for the academy declined to comment, saying the recommendation was under review.

josh.mitchell@baltsun.com

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