3 U.S. Naval Academy football players charged with sexually assaulting female midshipman

U.S. Naval Academy football stadium
CBS DC, Photo credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

(CBS) ANNAPOLIS, Md.-- On Wednesday, the U.S. Naval Academy announced charges against three of its football players accused of sexually assaulting a female midshipman at an off-campus house in April of 2012, reported CBS DC.

According to a news release published by the academy, three midshipmen, who have not yet been identified, are being charged with two violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, said the station.

The release stated that one charge is for sexual assault, rape, or other sexual misconduct, and the other charge is for making a false official statement, CBS DC reported.

The station reported that two of the defendants played on the academy's football team this past season but are no longer on the team. The third suspect remains on the football team but has been suspended until the case has been been resolved. 

"The case is still in the pre-trial phase, so any further comment on this ongoing investigation would be inappropriate," said Cmdr. John Schofield, an academy spokesman, according to CBS DC.

According to the victim's attorney, Susan Burke, the morning after the alleged crime took place, her client woke up with bruises and little memory of the evening before, reports the station. The victim, who had been drinking heavily at the time of the supposed incident, learned through friends and social media that the three suspects, who she thought were her friends, said they had sex with her while she was drunk.

According to CBS DC, Burke stated on Wednesday, "My client and I are cautiously optimistic that justice will finally prevail in this case. Even if this case is successfully prosecuted, the larger problem remains: rape cases in the military are controlled by untrained and biased commanders whose career interests may be served by covering up incidents like this one. The Naval Academy's handling of this case raises troubling questions about how the victim and the football players were treated. This case reflects why rape victims are fearful and skeptical of the military justice system."

Burke stated that the academy terminated an investigation into the alleged crime last year without filing charges, but reopened the case after the victim sought legal counsel, said the station.

According to Burke, when school officials reopened the case, they obtained wiretapped conversations which reinforced the victim's allegations, said CBS DC.

On Monday, the academy said stated that Vice Adm. Michael Miller, the school's superintendent, decided to forward the case to Article 32 proceedings, which will be held to determine whether or not there is enough evidence in the case for a court-marital, said the station.

The academy did not state whether the suspects had an attorney, reported CBS DC.