Military.com

Marine Officer to Face Second Trial Linked to Academy Sex Scandal

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 who was convicted of fraternizing with two female Naval Academy midshipmen in 2011 will face another court-martial later this year, this one on charges that he lied to an administrative board about the nature of his relationship with the two women.

Former Naval Academy instructor Maj. Mark Thompson was referred by Marine Corps Installations Command Commander Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley for trial by general court-martial June 13 on charges of making false official statements and conduct unbecoming a gentleman, MCICOM spokesman Rex Runyon said. The news was first reported today by The Washington Post.

General court-martial is the most serious forum in which military charges can be adjudicated, and reflects the severity of the punishment the prosecution is calling for in the case: 32 months’ confinement, dismissal from the Marine Corps, and a fine of $200,000 -- a day of jail time for each day Thompson served on active duty since the alleged 2011 liaisons with the midshipmen and all the pay he earned since then.

Throughout his previous court-martial and subsequent board of inquiry, Thompson maintained he had only a professional relationship with the two women. But that story was undercut this year when Washington Post reporter John Woodrow Cox unearthed a cell phone owned by one of the women, Sarah Stadler, containing text messages that appear to contradict Thompson's statements and hint at a much more intimate relationship.

At a May 13 Article 32 investigative hearing, another key witness for the prosecution emerged: Thompson's friend and former colleague Maj. Mike Pretus, who received a grant of immunity in order to testify in the case.

Pretus told the court he had participated in a 2011 threesome with Thompson and one of the midshipmen, at Thompson's home in Annapolis. He also described phone conversations in which Thompson told him that both women were drunk at his home, and that he expected a sexual encounter with both to take place.

Since then, Pretus said, Thompson had become fixated on perceived flaws in the prosecution of the original case, ultimately pursuing a story in The Washington Post in an effort to clear his name.

"In his mind, he is innocent. One hundred percent innocent," Pretus said of Thompson.

Thompson’s side of the story has yet to be told. Thompson and his lawyer, Kevin McDermott, walked out of the courtroom at the start of the Article 32 hearing. McDermott said he had been denied the opportunity to present key defense witnesses and evidence and decried the hearing as a "show trial."

He did not immediately respond to Military.com requests for comment on the decision to refer Thompson to court-martial.

Runyon said Thompson's arraignment on the new charges is expected to take place next month. The court-martial will happen sometime this fall, he said.

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

Show Full Article