After verdict in Navy sexual assault case, four midshipmen try to move on

The acquittal of an ex-Navy football player on sexual assault charges is unlikely to end public debate over the military’s response to sexual assault claims. But it brings to a close a two-year ordeal for the four young people at the center of the case, who now face the task of putting it behind them, and moving on. Here is where they stand:

Tra’ves Bush

The investigation delayed the May 2013 graduation of Bush, one of the original defendants in the case, who was initially supposed to be commissioned in May 2013. He was commissioned later that year, shortly after charges against him were dropped, an academy official said. He is stationed on a ship in Norfolk, Va., an academy spokesman said.

Eric Graham

Charges against Graham were also dropped. He agreed to testify at the court martial of the remaining defendant, Joshua Tate, in exchange for a grant of immunity. Graham was allowed to resign under certain conditions. He remained a midshipman until the trial was over, but was allowed to leave Annapolis about three weeks ago, and return to his home in Eight Mile, Ala., his attorney Chip Herrington said. Under the terms of his departure, he is expected to be discharged from the military and not forced to repay more than $180,000 in tuition, the lawyer said. (Taxpayers pick up the tab for four years at the U.S. Naval Academy, in exchange for active duty service upon graduation. Midshipmen who leave the academy before their third year generally do not have to repay tuition. But those who leave after that point are usually required to pay it back.) That deal awaits the approval of an assistant secretary of the Navy. Graham was recently accepted by the University of Alabama and the University of South Alabama. His next challenge, Herrington said, is finding the money to attend.

Joshua Tate

Tate was the only one of the three original defendants to stand trial and was acquitted Thursday on sexual assault charges. He remains in Annapolis for the time being, while the terms of his departure are worked out. The judge who presided over the court martial, Marine Corps Col. Daniel Daugherty, referred lesser charges for lying to investigators back to the U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Michael Miller, to handle within the school’s conduct system. The day Tate was acquitted, an academy spokesman said, Tate had agreed to leave school and will be dismissed from his military duties. Whether Tate will be required to repay tuition is up to an assistant secretary of the Navy. But experts said that that is unlikely because his conduct offenses occurred before he reached his third year of school.

The Accuser

The 22-year-old senior called the more than 20 hours she spent on the stand at a preliminary hearing, known as an Article 32, where she was questioned about the way she danced and performed oral sex, “humiliating.” (The Washington Post does not typically identify alleged victims of sexual assault.) Due in part to her experience, however, lawmakers in Washington made changes to the Article 32 process. The response in Annapolis has been different. In the past year, as the case has worked its way through the courts, the accuser has been shunned by many of her classmates. She chose to remain at school, she said, because “a lot of great things go on here, and this situation doesn’t define this institution, nor does it define me.” She remains on track to be commissioned in May. She recently became engaged.

Annys Shin has been a staff writer at the Washington Post since 2004.
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