Friday, July 21, 2006

Midshipman Owens: not guilty

As predicted and hoped for, MIDN Owens has been found not guilty of rape.
A former U.S. Naval Academy quarterback was acquitted last night of raping a female midshipman but was found guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer for having sex with the woman in her dorm room and disobeying an order to stay clear of her.

The verdict by a jury of five naval officers means that Midshipman Lamar S. Owens Jr., 22, could face up to two years in a military prison as well as dismissal from the Navy. He avoids the life sentence that could have come with a rape conviction.
Owens's attorneys immediately objected to the jury's decision, saying that there was no credible evidence to support conviction on any of the charges and that they would ask the judge, Cmdr. John A. Maksym, to overturn the verdict today.
As for the lesser charges - if he wasn't falsely charged with rape, these other charges would never have seen the light of day and he would be Ensign Owens turning his leadership from a winning quarterback for a winning team, to a leader of Sailors.

Worse; his name has been smeared for the rest of his life, and those who smeared it are going to the Fleet with immunity. Yep, they will have lots of credibility with the Sailors under their charge. Lots.

We will see later today what the judge does. For the sake of justice, they should let him get his commission and have the other charges delt with by NJP ... but have him pay back 4 years of tuition? No.

But ... the Carnival of Courts Martial continue. Two more this summer from the USNA. The USCGA Courts Martial, if you recall, also involved a football player and a false accousation of rape. Not guilty there as well, but guilty of lesser charges thrown on after the original charge
was brought. For the Sea Services, 0/2 with two more times at bat. Once again, if there isn't real leadership and honest discussion of the problem of looking the other way - this will not stop. Want to know who not to listen to?
Anita Sanchez, a spokeswoman for the Miles Foundation, an organization that tracks violence against women in the military, said Owens' acquittal highlights the military's flawed system of prosecuting rape. "Unfortunately the current Uniform Code of Military Justice doesn't support the prosecution of these date rapes, because the terminology in the current code says, 'by force and without consent,' and these type of assaults do not always include force."

She said Owens' acquittal, as well as the acquittal of a U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet on a rape charge in June, may prevent rape victims from coming forward.

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