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Paper IDs Navy Football Players in Alleged Rape

The three U.S. Naval Academy football players charged with raping a female midshipman have been identified by an Annapolis newspaper as linebacker Josh Tate and safeties Eric Graham and Trav'es Bush.

The Capital Gazette newspaper said multiple sources confirmed the identities of the three, whose cases have been referred by Vice Adm. Michael Miller, the Naval Academy's superintendent, to a hearing that could lead to a general court martial.

The academy had withheld the names, saying they would become part of the public record at the start of the Article 32 hearing, similar to a grand jury hearing under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. No date has yet been set for the hearing.

Tate, of Nashville, Tenn., was one of the team's leading tacklers last season. Bush, of Johnston, S.C., who finished his playing career as a safety last season, was described on the academy's sports website as "one of the team leaders." Graham, of Eight Mile, Ala., was also a safety but had never seen varsity action and was no longer on the team's roster entering last season, the Capital Gazette reported.

Academy officials would neither confirm nor deny the identities of the players, and Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo did not respond to several phone calls, the newspaper said.

In a statement earlier this week, the academy said the suspects were being charged under Article 120 of the UCMJ for rape and sexual assault, and under Article 107 for making false official statements. Convictions under Article 120 could result in jail terms up to life imprisonment.

The case against the three stemmed from alleged incidents in April 2012 at an off-campus location where players went to party. The midshipman said she drank heavily at the party and woke up the next day with bruises on her arms and legs. She learned later from friends and social media postings that the three players were claiming to have had sex with her while she was blacked out.

The allegations against the players came as Congress was considering changes in the UCMJ to curb the spike in sexual assaults and unwanted sexual contacts at the military academies and throughout the services.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Wednesday, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said she was "deeply troubled by the lackluster response from the superintendents to increasing rates of sexual assault within their academies."

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Naval Academy Sexual Assault Richard Sisk
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