Naval Academy accuser allegedly told suspect not to talk

In the recording, the woman asked Midshipman Josh Tate not to tell Navy investigators about what happened at an off-campus party in April 2012.

WASHINGTON — A female midshipman who has accused three U.S. Naval Academy football players of raping her asked two of them to lie to investigators, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing on Thursday.

The men - Tra'ves Bush, Eric Graham and Joshua Tate - are accused of sexually assaulting the woman last year while she was passed out after drinking at an off-campus party.

The hearing follows a spate of high-profile military sexual assault cases, including some involving personnel whose job it was to prevent sexual abuse.

Bush's defense attorney, Andrew Weinstein, presented a two-minute telephone recording between Tate and the woman in which she asked him to lie to Navy investigators during the early stages of the case.

"I need you to say nothing happened," the woman said during the call recorded by Tate. "I hate to ask you to lie, but I don't want this to go anywhere."

The woman, who was a 20-year-old sophomore at the time of the alleged incident, has testified that she did not want to get anyone in trouble.

During cross-examination, she said she also told Graham to lie during the initial investigation because, at the time, she did not want the case to proceed.

She has said she feared her mother would force her to leave the elite school at Annapolis, Maryland, which trains Navy and Marine officers. Naval Academy students are known as midshipmen.

Weinstein challenged contradictory statements made by the woman to Navy investigators in September 2012. They included that she had "13 seconds of memory relating to sexual activity" that night, something she denied on Wednesday.

CONTRADICTION

The woman contradicted an interview she gave to CNN in which she said the three men had pressured her not to cooperate with investigators. She testified that Tate had been the only one to do so.

Weinstein also grilled the woman on her sexual history with Bush, with whom she earlier had a consensual sexual relationship, and about her drinking. She testified she had started drinking at 17.

The woman, who like the three men was wearing a white summer uniform, looked exasperated on the witness stand, yawning and rubbing her temples.

The so-called Article 32 hearing at Washington's Navy Yard will determine if a general court-martial is warranted. Reuters generally does not report the names of sexual assault victims.

Navy Commander Robert Monahan, who is presiding over the hearing, ruled that the woman's medical records, such as prescribed medications that could affect her memory, be made available to the defense. The ruling covers the one-year period before the party.

The woman says she filed an assault report on a fellow student's urging and volunteered to accept punishment for underage drinking. She sought legal help in early 2013.

Bush, Graham and Tate are also charged with making false statements. Bush's May graduation from the academy was put on hold pending the outcome of the case. Graham is a senior, and Tate is a junior.

Related: Accuser testifies in Naval Academy sex assault case

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