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Court-martial set for former Naval Academy professor accused of sexual assault

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Court-martial proceedings were expected to start Tuesday for a former Naval Academy professor charged with sexually assaulting a midshipman in 2011 at his Annapolis apartment.

Marine Maj. Mark A. Thompson, 43, faces three charges, including aggravated sexual assault and indecent acts; three specifications of conduct unbecoming of an officer; and two specifications of fraternization.

An Article 32 hearing for the case was held on Dec. 19 and Jan. 15.

The result of that investigation was provided to Naval Academy Superintendent Michael H. Miller, who made the decision to refer the case to general court martial. 

“The Naval Academy takes all reports of sexual assault seriously and is uniformly committed to taking positive and proactive steps to investigate every incident,” said a Naval Academy spokesperson.

While the Naval Academy has been mum on many of the details, some of that information came out in January at Thompson’s Article 32 hearing, which no independent media members attended, according to Military.com.

The military website reported Navy Ensign Sarah Stadler, who was with the alleged rape victim at Thompson’s apartment, described an ongoing sexual relationship she had with Thompson. Stadler described her friend and herself as “drunk” the evening of the alleged incident.

The two then-mids visited the downtown Annapolis Mexican restaurant El Toro Bravo before they decided to go to Thompson’s, Stadler said. At Thompson’s, Stadler said they began to drink tequila. At that point, the alleged victim looked ill, Stadler said, so she started pouring her water.

Thompson, Stadler and the alleged victim then started playing strip poker and after removing some clothing, Stadler said the next thing she remembered was walking to Thompson’s bed with the alleged victim and sitting down. Stadler said Tuesday she had sex with Thompson that night, but did not say if she saw Thompson assaulting the other mid.

The alleged victim later went to the bathroom to throw up, Stadler said, and the two walked back to the Yard at the academy and returned to their rooms before midnight. Stadler recalled she and the other mid had hazy memories the next morning and later she retrieved the alleged victim’s bra from Thompson’s apartment.

The alleged victim asked Stadler to tell Thompson he should resign as the officer representative of the rifle team, according to Military.com’s report of Stadler’s testimony.

The charges against Thompson followed a visit to the academy from military officials who spoke on the issue.

Two of the Navy’s top officials visited Annapolis on Jan. 8 and challenged midshipmen to step forward and not tolerate sexual assault or harassment. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert spoke to the Brigade of Midshipmen at the “Sexual Assault ‘Stampout’ Stand-down,” a mandatory event following mids’ return to the Yard from winter break.

The stand-down was a “direct follow-on action” to the release of the Defense Department’s “Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies.” That December 2012 report said the nation’s three service academies had a 23-percent spike in reported sexual assaults in 2012.

President Barack Obama directly referenced sexual assault during the academy's graduation ceremony last week, challenging midshipmen to "live with integrity."

A Pentagon survey this month estimated 26,000 military service members experienced “unwanted sexual contact” last year, but only a small fraction filed sexual-assault reports.
 

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