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Wiretap Contests Accuser in Navy Sex Case
ANNAPOLIS, MD (WPMI) A Navy midshipman from Eight Mile and two other midshipmen are waiting to find out if the sexual assault case against them will go to court martial.
The Article 32 hearing, which is the equivalent of a Grand Jury in civilian court, ended Tuesday and is being reviewed by the Investigating Officer.
The case stems from an April 2012 alcohol-fueled party off campus in which the accuser claims she was taken advantage of.
The accuser, who is a fellow midshipman, said she drank so much that night, she had little memory of what happened. She told Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigators she came to believe she was assaulted after hearing rumors and seeing messages about her the next day on social media.
The accuser, who is now 21, told the investigators she did, in fact, have consensual sex with 2 men that night. Testimony from NCIS investigators revealed one of the men is the accuser's ex-boyfriend, Joshua Tate, 21.
Tate, is accused in the case along with Tra'ves Bush, 22, and Eric Graham, a standout defensive back at Blount High School.
Graham, 21, is charged with abusive sexual contact. Tate and Bush are charged with aggravated sexual assault. All three are accused of lying to NCIS investigators.
During the hearing, defense attorneys contended the accuser's lack of memory does not mean there was no consent.
Graham admitted to investigators the accuser performed oral sex on him, testimony revealed.
"This is a girl that had gotten drunk, she did some things she was embarrassed about, regretted, had some fears about her reputation and as a result, made up a story to save face," said defense attorney Chip Herrington, who represents Graham.
Herrington's claim was backed up by testimony from friends of the victim.
"A friend of hers who was questioned on the witness stand confirmed the words [the accuser] used to him were, 'I did what I did and I wanted to do it.'"
Twenty-two witnesses testified during the unusually long hearing which lasted 8 days. Altogether, NCIS investigators questioned 100 witnesses during the investigation.
A wiretapped conversation between the accuser and Tate may also be more damaging to her account of the events. A portion of the conversation, which was played in open court, appeared to show the accuser wanted to halt the investigation.
"I need you to say nothing happened. I hate to ask you to lie, but I don't want this to go anywhere," the accuser was recorded saying to Tate.
"I don't believe there's a DA in the country, that on the evidence they said they had against my client, who would have sent a case to the Grand Jury," Herrington said by phone during his trip from Annapolis to Mobile Wednesday, "There's just no evidence he is guilty of any form of any non-consensual, sexual act.
Susan Burke, the attorney for the accuser, did not return calls or emails seeking comment.
The accused were members of the Navy football team at the time of the party. They have since been dismissed from the team.
Investigating Officer CDR Robert P. Monahan, Jr. will offer a recommendation to the Superintendent of the Naval Academy, who will decide if the case will head to a court martial.
Monahan is expected to offer the recommendation within 10 days from September 9.