Jury selection begins in Naval Academy assault case
BALTIMORE — Jury selection is scheduled to begin Friday in a court-martial for a U.S. Naval Academy midshipman charged with sexually assaulting a classmate.
Midshipman Joshua Tate is charged with aggravated sexual assault and making false official statements.
The jury — called a "panel" in the military justice system — will be comprised of Navy and Marine Corps officers who are stationed in the Washington, D.C. region.
The judge in the case, Marine Col. Daniel Daugherty, ordered that the pool of potential panel members be drawn from outside of the academy, as would normally be the case, because of the intense focus on the case and the issue of sexual assault in the military.
Government prosecutors allege that Tate had sexual contact with a female classmate who was so drunk she was unable to consent. They also allege that he changed the story he gave to Navy investigators.
The charges stem from an off-campus party in April 2012. Three midshipman, all members of the football team at the time, initially were accused of sexually assaulting the woman.
Formal charges were not filed against one midshipman, who has graduated and is now an ensign in the Navy.
Charges were dropped against another midshipman after the case was weakened when the judge threw out key statements. He is in the process of withdrawing from the academy and is a witness in the case against Tate.
The alleged victim remains enrolled at the academy and is expected to testify.
The court-martial will be held at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. and is expected to last at least several days.