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Hearing Set for Marine Accused of Lying in Sexual Misconduct Case

The U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., seen in 2007. Reports of sexual assaults at the three military academies jumped by more than 50 percent in the 2014-15 school year. Kathleen Lange, File/AP
The U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., seen in 2007. Reports of sexual assaults at the three military academies jumped by more than 50 percent in the 2014-15 school year. Kathleen Lange, File/AP

A Marine major will face a court hearing Friday to determine if he will stand trial for allegedly lying on the stand while facing a 2014 disciplinary board on allegations of sexual misconduct with two Naval Academy midshipmen.

Maj. Mark Thompson may be charged with making a false official statement and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, Rex Runyon, a spokesman for Marine Corps Installations Command, told Military.com.

Thompson, a former instructor at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, was acquitted at a 2013 court-martial of sexual assault in a 2011 incident in which the two young women alleged he had sex with them at his home. But he was convicted of fraternization and indecent sexual contact with a midshipman.

An administrative board of inquiry concluded in 2014 that Thompson should not be discharged from the Corps after the major claimed one of his accusers, identified by The Washington Post as Sarah Stadler, was lying about the relationship the two had shared -- one that he claimed was only professional.

But an extensive Washington Post investigation published earlier this year has cast serious doubt on the veracity of Thompson’s claims, and prompted the Marine Corps to open a new investigation into the officer's behavior.

During conversations between Post reporter John Woodrow Cox and Stadler, the former midshipman located a cell phone -- believed to be missing during the court-martial -- that contains text messages apparently contradicting some of Thompson's claims.

In one instance, while Thompson claimed he never saw Stadler following her May 2011 graduation, text exchanges reveal the two were together the night after, according to Post reports.

The reporting also caused the Naval Academy to remove another instructor, Maj. Michael Pretus, on new allegations of sexual misconduct tied to events allegedly involving Thompson. Pretus had been previously investigated on allegations of sexual misconduct prior to being assigned to teach at the academy, but the investigation was ultimately closed.

The Post reported Pretus was removed by Naval Academy officials who said they weren't aware of the previous accusations. He is now expected to be a witness for the prosecution in Thompson's case.

Thompson's Article 32 pre-trial hearing will be held Friday morning at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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