Three Naval Academy football players are under investigation for sexually assaulting a female Navy midshipman, officials confirmed on Thursday to Military.com.
NBC News confirmed that the assault was alleged to take place in the back of a car, when the four had been drinking. One alleged assailant was reportedly her boyfriend, a senior at the academy who began the assault, followed by the two others who are juniors at the Naval Academy.
The assault allegedly took place a year ago when the woman originally reported it, but then four months later she said she wanted to drop the case. In February, she decided to continue with the case and the investigation is ongoing.
“Naval Academy leadership is monitoring the progress of this investigation and evaluating the appropriate options for adjudication,” Cmdr. John Schofield said in a statement to ABC News. “It is completely inappropriate to make any other public comment on this investigation or any ongoing investigation as we risk compromising the military justice process.” Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Michael Miller and Navy Football Coach Ken Niumatalolo did not comment because the investigation is ongoing.
The report of this assault going public comes less than a week after President Barack Obama spoke at the Naval Academy graduation and told graduates that sexual assault has “no place in the greatest military on Earth.”
ABC’s Martha Raddatz reported that one of the midshipmen was supposed to graduate the day that Obama spoke, but was not allowed to due to the ongoing investigation in which he is the principal assailant. Thus far, no charges have been filed and the names of the players have not been released.
Retaliation against victims who report sexual assault in the military is a serious problem, The Associated Press reported on Friday. Former Marine Stacey Thompson, who was 19 at the time of her assault, found that little happened to her assailant but she found herself the subject of an investigation for drug use on the night of the assault.
A recent Pentagon report said that there were an estimated 26,000 sexual assaults in 2012, up from just over 19,000 in 2010. The report also found that 62 percent of victims reported they faced some kind of retaliation after the fact. Of the 3,374 sexual assaults that were referred for criminal investigation (since 2005, victims have been able to seek medical attention and counseling within the military without initiating an investigation), just 238 resulted in convictions.
Military.com reported that the number of assaults at the Naval Academy in 2012 was 15, up from 11 in 2011. One of these assaults allegedly by a former Academy instructor, who stands accused of sexually assaulting one midshipman and having consensual sex with another, according to the Navy Times. Marine Maj. Mark Thompson faces up to 30 years in prison.
The Senate Armed Services Committee plans to hold a hearing on sexual assaults in the military on June 4, 2013.
Watch the report, broadcast by ABC News on May 31.
[Stock Photo: Circa 1994 – U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen In Formal Dress For Parade, Annapolis, Maryland via Shutterstock]