Protect Our Defenders News Blog


STATEMENT: Protect Our Defenders Responds to Verdict Against Naval Academy Midshipman Accused of Sexual Assault


March 20, 2014 Contact: Brian Purchia,



Washington DC – Today a military judge found a former United States Naval Academy football player not guilty on sexual assault charges. He and two other students had been accused of sexual assaulting a female midshipman at an off-campus football party in 2012. The midshipman was the only one to be court-martialed and charges against the other two were dropped.

Protect Our Defenders President Nancy Parrish released the following statement:

“The outcome of today’s case is a painful reminder of what so many victims of military sexual assault continue to face—a system of justice that is fundamentally lacking in objectivity, often arbitrary and chaotic and too often plagued by inherent conflict, personal bias and a disregard for the victims.

“From the very beginning, the Naval Academy chose to put the reputations of the Academy and its football program above the interests of prosecuting rape and protecting victims.

“The midshipman in this case has been repeatedly subjected to unprofessional and often abusive treatment by the military—from a botched NCIS investigation, to being subjected to nearly 30 hours of questioning at a pre-trial hearing, to the release of her confidential communications with her therapist in violation of her privacy rights. This case has highlighted some of the worst failings of the military justice system, and while we are devastated for the victim, we know that her suffering will not be in vain. It is now as clear as ever that the current system is broken, and we will continue to fight to ensure that young women like this victim, who volunteer to serve our country, are given the same access to justice as the civilians they pledge to protect.”

Attorney Susan Burke released the following statement:

“This case reflects that the military justice system remains badly broken. Like so many survivors of sex crimes in the military, our client was twice victimized: first by her attacker and then by the failed investigation and prosecution of this case. The military’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy once again was applied to a crime victim, and not to the perpetrators. Justice did not prevail in this case, but we are proud of our client’s extraordinary strength, courage, and perseverance in the face of incredible abuse she endured before and during the trial. She is understandably disappointed today, but hopes legitimate reforms of the military justice system will occur because of her case and those of other survivors.”

Associated Press: Midshipman in Naval Academy Sex Case Not Guilty

NBC News: Ex-Naval Academy Football Player Found Not Guilty of Sex Assault

Reuters: U.S. Naval Academy midshipman not guilty in sex assault case

Washington Post: Lawsuit: Naval Academy head should excuse self from court-martial decision in sex assault case

MSNBC: Naval Academy sexual assault hearing underscores flaws in system

MSNBC: Naval Academy sex-assault accuser seeks break in testimony, citing exhaustion


About Protect Our Defenders: Protect Our Defenders is a human rights organization.  We seek to honor, support and give voice to the brave women and men in uniform who have been sexually assaulted while serving their country, and re-victimized by the military adjudication system – a system that often blames the victim and fails to prosecute the perpetrator. Learn more about Protect Our Defenders at or on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at

Protect Our Defenders partners with Attorney Susan Burke, Burke PLLC to advance lawsuits filed against the DoD and service academies for repeatedly ignoring rape, sexual assault and harassment, failing to prosecute perpetrators and retaliating against the victim.