Prosecutors: Naval Academy midshipman was too drunk to consent

WASHINGTON — The alleged victim in the Naval Academy sexual assault case testified Tuesday that she drank heavily before and during an April 2012 party and didn't remember having sex with any fellow midshipmen.

The woman, now a senior at the academy, testified on the opening day of the court-martial of Midshipman Joshua Tate, who is accused of aggravated sexual assault and making false statements to investigators. The case is being heard by a military judge at the Washington Navy Yard.

Prosecutors told the judge, Marine Corps Col. Daniel Daugherty, that they would prove the alleged victim drank so much she couldn't have consented to sex with Tate in a car outside the off-campus "football house." Tate, an academy junior from Nashville, is a former Navy football player.

The woman said she had only spotty memories of the "yogas and togas" party: seeing a princess bounce house in the yard, dancing on a packed floor, talking with someone she didn't remember in a stairwell.

She testified that it was the day after the party that she suspected she might have been assaulted after hearing rumors and seeing posts on Twitter and Facebook.

"I had no clue what happened," the woman testified.

The Baltimore Sun does not identify victims of alleged sexual assault.

Prosecutor Lt. Col. Ryan Stormer said the woman took "shot after shot after shot" and "swig and swig and swig" from a bottle of rum "until she got so intoxicated that past a certain point she blacked out and lost her memory."

Defense attorneys said the woman wasn't drunk beyond the point of being able to make coherent decisions. They said she knew what she was doing.

The morning after the party, defense attorney Cmdr. Warren "Art" Record said the alleged victim told a friend: "Last night was crazy. What I did last night, I did it and I wanted to do it."

The woman, who spent more than three hours on the stand Tuesday, denied making that statement.

She said Tate told her that they had sex at the party when she confronted him the next day.

"He kind of looked at me and said, 'What, you don't remember?'" the woman testified. She said Tate chuckled and said, "Oh, you were too turnt up" — academy slang for drunk.

Prosecutors called four midshipmen to the stand, where they testified they saw the alleged victim drinking or intoxicated at various points in the party.

Prosecutors also called an Army forensic psychiatrist, who discussed blackouts and how alcohol affects the brain. The psychiatrist did not comment specifically on the condition of the alleged victim that night.

The alleged victim is expected to continue her testimony when the court-martial resumes Wednesday.

If convicted, Tate faces up to 30 years in prison on the sexual assault charge and up to five years on each of three counts of making false statements.

Tate is one of three midshipmen, all former football players, who were initially accused in the case.

Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Michael H. Miller declined to pursue charges against Tra'ves Bush after a preliminary hearing last year. He has since graduated and been commissioned an ensign in the Navy.

Eric Graham, was charged, but his case was dropped when some statements were deemed inadmissible in court. He is withdrawing from the academy.

pwood@baltsun.com

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