Wednesday, July 19, 2006

USNA rends itself asunder

I knew a few girls like this in college….….and so did a lot of people. A lot.

Sober, she was a nice, fine, happy, type-A girl. Fun to be around, good sense of humor - sober. Some of her girlfriends did not like going out with her though. She did like to drink. That is when she changed

She was dangerous, had a bad habit of calling at 0300, blotto, inviting you to “visit.” Had a tendency to show up at the window outside your room about 30 minutes after closing – yelling her head off to see if you were home. Next time you saw her, she didn't remember the 0300 call - she doesn't even remember when your girlfriend took the line and told her off. A couple of dewey-eyed guys tried to have her as a ligit girlfriend, but is always ended with something like, “Dude, your girlfriend went home with some Sig Ep last night.”
The … boyfriend, … testified that the woman was drunk on the night of the incident, and that he struggled to get her to bed that night while she repeatedly asked him to stay. She flirtatiously slapped him at one point, he said.

About 3:40 a.m., the woman sent a series of badly spelled instant messages from her desktop computer to her boyfriend, asking him to come back and saying she wanted "to cuddle."

"But you slapped me," he replied, according to a copy of the exchange that was saved by the boyfriend and was shown in court yesterday.
The witnesses said she was obviously intoxicated in the hours before ..
"She didn't need to drink any more from my point of view," said 2nd Lt. James Winston.

…three defense witnesses … testified that the woman becomes "socially aggressive" and "flirtatious" when she drinks but is otherwise very "reserved." …"She was usually incredibly drunk. … She would kind of aggressively pursue men."

(another) testified that she was "usually incredibly drunk" when she frequented bars in Annapolis and recalled one occasion when he met her more than a year ago.

(he) testified that when he walked into a midshipman's room where the woman was present, she asked Whittle whether he wanted a lap dance. When he said no, Whittle testified, she yelled an expletive at him.

She … didn't say "no" or alert her sleeping roommate.

…a forensic psychiatrist … testified about how memories can be corrupted and "re-packaged" erroneously by people who are impaired during events they later try to remember.
No, I don’t enjoy posting on this. I have daughters. I have sisters.

Reasonable doubt? Read all the above in full here, here, here, here, and here.

Sad and cautionary tale. Tough call, but even if her account is 100% accurate – it isn’t rape from the cheap seats. No means no, but you have to say it. In the real world, there isn’t a signed, step-by-step checklist in a challenge-and-response progression. Retroactive "no"s do not count.

This soap opera on the Severn is a symptom of a rot brought about by bad politics, policy, and leadership. All three need changing or this is going to happen over, and over, and over. Oh, and soon she is going to be leading Sailors. We made this mess; we have to deal with it.
Lieutenant General Mattis, call your office.
A military judge stopped just short of throwing out a rape charge against former Navy quarterback Lamar S. Owens, Jr., hinting that had the decision been up to him, he would have acquitted the Naval Academy midshipman.

Outside the presence of the jury -- which is how challenges to evidence or objections are argued in military court -- Cmdr. John Maksym said Owens' civilian attorney "eviscerated the alleged victim during cross-examination" in a manner that was "difficult to endure."

"A reasonable jury could find substantial reasonable doubt as to Owens' guilt as to the [rape] charge, based on the credibility, or absence of credibility, of the alleged victim," he said, referring to the 20-year-old female midshipman who has accused Owens. But the judge denied a motion to dismiss the charges, saying the jury would decide.

Cmdr. John Maksym, the Navy judge who has shown a colorful streak throughout the five days of the trial, sharply criticized a Naval Academy victim advocate today. He said the woman, Lt. Maureen Brown, exceeded her responsibilities as an advocate by acting as a "cheerleader" for the female midshipman during the investigation of the Owens case.

The Navy judge supervising the rape court-martial of former Naval Academy quarterback Lamar S. Owens Jr. chided military prosecutors on Thursday for having "weak facts" and "anemic witnesses."

Maksym drew early attention when he lectured Rempt for sending e-mails to academy personnel that "insinuate guilt."

Yesterday, after a Navy nurse, Lt. Cmdr. Amy Branstetter of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda - who conducted a rape examination on the woman - said she found no evidence of injury, ..

Maksym sustained a defense objection to the witness and did not allow the prosecution's expert witness - Navy Lt. Cmdr. Cynthia Ferguson, a nurse, midwife and forensic rape examiner at Bethesda - to testify.

"She's not even a physician," he said.

He added that Ferguson - who had been brought into court to testify before the judge and lawyers but not yet to the jury - showed prejudice because she assumed all the women she examines in rape cases are victims.

The accuser's friend, who said Owens confessed to her, admitted under cross-examination that she had had several bad relationships with football team members and had "sworn off" dating them.
Heberlig, the defense attorney, attacked the friend's credibility. Under cross-examination, she admitted to "binge drinking" despite being underage, consuming alcohol while using the prescription painkiller Vicodin in Bancroft Hall, and renting an off-campus house - all apparent violations of academy rules.
One fact witness who testified for the prosecution yesterday gave an account of the victim and her friends - all of them current or former varsity athletes - living a life at odds with Naval Academy rules. ... The witness also said she would occasionally drink while on guard duty and would be absent from her post for as much as 40 minutes at a time.

The woman said that in exchange for truthful testimony, she had been given immunity by the academy from any judicial or administrative punishment. … The accuser was also given immunity for her testimony.
Honor, Courage, Commitment?

The above from here, and here. There is also some day-by-day reporting over at TheCountervailingForce.

Yep, I edited out a lot from the above – but I think it is what the jury would focus on. I would. Is Owens perfect? No. Is he a rapist? I don’t think so.

Are running a military academy or a co-ed school with a strict dress code? Read it all again, and answer it for yourself. If you want a good idea what the non-military public sees, I think Jean Marbella does a good job here.

Executive Summary: Like I have said for the better part of two decades – never sleep with a Shipmate. I don’t care what she says, or where she has her hand when she says it. Stand up (I don’t care if it would be embarrassing – no one will think worse of you) grab a couple of real friends and go somewhere else. Heck, go by yourself. Just go. Let someone else be led into temptation. You’ll be better in the morning.

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