WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense attorneys for three U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen charged with sexually assaulting a fellow student finished lengthy cross-examination of the woman on Sunday.
She testified that Midshipman Josh Tate, one of the men charged in the case, told her shortly after an April 2012 party that the two had sex after she had been drinking heavily. She says that during a subsequent phone call he said he’d only been kidding about having sex with her.
Tate, 21; Eric Graham, 21; and Tra’ves Bush, 22, are accused of sexually assaulting the woman at an alcohol-fueled off-campus party.
The woman has testified that she has no memory of having sex with any of the three men, but later was told by Tate that the two had sex. She said he also told her she had a sexual encounter with Graham.
She has said she only learned of what happened after hearing gossip that she had slept with multiple partners at the house where football players gathered. That prompted her to ask Tate whether they had sex that night. She testified that Tate responded that they had sex and joked that perhaps he should refresh her memory.
An attorney for Tate also replayed a brief recorded telephone conversation between the woman and Tate that occurred roughly a week after the party in April 2012. In that call, the woman asks Tate to tell Navy investigators nothing happened between them. She said in the call that she hated to ask him to lie, but that she did not want the case to go forward.
Tate can be heard responding that what she was saying “ain’t cool.”
The end of cross-examination came a day after the woman was excused from testifying on Saturday. She said she was fatigued from her testimony, which began Tuesday.
Her attorney, Susan Burke, told the presiding investigative officer that one of Graham’s lawyers approached her Friday evening and asked whether her client would withdraw from further testimony.
The woman had asked to be excused on both Thursday and Friday due to fatigue from difficult and sometimes graphic questioning by defense lawyers.
“It led me to believe this had been an intentional effort to exhaust the witness,” Burke said Sunday.
Ronald Herrington, a lawyer for Graham, said he approached Burke only to ask if the woman planned to continue testifying.
“She choose to disclose her version of the conversation,” Herrington said in an interview. “I dispute her version.”
Bush and Tate are charged with aggravated sexual assault. Graham is charged with abusive sexual contact.
A hearing to determine whether the three men will face a court-martial began Tuesday at the Washington Navy Yard.
Earlier Sunday, attorneys for Bush and Graham said requests to separate the cases from a joint hearing had been denied by academy officials.