Ex-Strom Thurmond star questioned in Naval Academy sex assault investigation

One of those students question in connection to a sexual assault is 2008 Augusta Chronicle South Carolina Football Player of the Year Tra’ves Bush, of Strom Thurmond High School.



WASHINGTON — A female U.S. Naval Academy student was highly intoxicated last year on the night when she was allegedly sexually assaulted by three midshipmen, a military prosecutor said Tuesday night as he urged an officer to move forward with a court-martial.

But defense attorneys said the woman lied repeatedly about her actions during and after an off-campus party in 2012, and that there was no evidence of a forcible assault.
The woman spent five days testifying during the proceeding, known as an Article 32 hearing. She has said she drank heavily and has no memory of having sex with the midshipmen but became concerned after hearing gossip after the party.
The Associated Press generally doesn’t name those who authorities say were victims of sexual assault.

Lt. Cmdr. Phil Hammond, a prosecutor, said in his closing argument Tuesday that the woman was “substantially incapacitated” from drinking too much alcohol.

Andrew Weinstein, who is representing Midshipman Tra’ves Bush, a former Strom Thurmond High standout, said the woman had lied repeatedly. He also said no one at the party saw her passed out or acting as intoxicated as she claimed.

“Blackout … is not an attribute of capacity,” Weinstein said.

He said the three former Navy football players – Bush and Mid­ship­men Eric Graham and Josh Tate – never should have been charged.
Lt. Cmdr. Angela Tang, who is representing Graham, said there was no evidence anyone used force.
“Drunk sex is not sexual assault,” she said.

The hearing was wrapping up Tuesday, a week after it began. After closing arguments, the presiding investigative officer will review evidence and make a recommendation to the academy’s superintendent. Such reviews generally take days or weeks to complete.

Graham has been charged with abusive sexual contact, while Bush and Tate have been charged with aggravated sexual assault.

All three also are charged with making a false statement.

The case has drawn attention as the White House, Congress and the Pentagon have been focusing on the issue of sexual assault after a string of cases in the military this year. President Obama highlighted the importance of the issue at the Naval Academy’s graduation ceremony in May.

Earlier Tuesday, an investigatorin the case, Special Agent Michelle Robinson, testified via video conference from Bahrain that the woman told her she wasn’t sure whether she had consented to the encounters.

Robinson also testified that Graham told her during the investigation that he had oral sex with the woman in a car outside the party.

Graham made the statement in an interview during the investigation.