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Charges dropped against 1 in Naval Academy sex-assault case

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – A U.S. Naval Academy midshipman accused in a sexual assault case will not face charges, the school announced Friday, leaving just one of three original defendants in the case remaining.

A Naval Academy spokesman said charges against Midshipman Eric Graham of Eight Mile, Ala., were dismissed following a recommendation from prosecutors.

Prosecutors initially accused three men of sexually assaulting a woman, also a midshipman, in 2012 at an off-campus house in Annapolis, Md.

The woman said she didn’t remember being sexually assaulted after a night of heavy drinking but heard from others she had had sex with multiple partners at a party. The men were all football players at the academy at the time of the alleged assault.

The decision to drop charges against Graham was made by U.S. Naval Academy superintendent Vice Adm. Michael Miller. At an earlier stage of the case, Miller also decided not to pursue charges against Tra’ves Bush of Johnston, S.C.

Cmdr. John Schofield, spokesman for the Naval Academy, said prosecutors recommended Miller drop the charges against Graham “citing no reasonable grounds to believe a crime of sexual assault was committed by Midshipman Graham due to the absence of evidence.”

A major factor in the recommendation was a recent ruling by a military judge that statements Graham made during an investigation would not be admissible during a military trial scheduled for later this month.

Graham had faced charges of abusive sexual contact and making a false statement during the investigation of the case.

“From the start, we have always been confident that the truth was on our side,” said Chip Herrington, Graham’s lawyer, after learning charges would be dropped. “We are extremely pleased that Vice Adm. Miller has finally accepted the recommendation of dismissal, based on the absence of any evidence that a crime was committed.”

Ryan Guilds, a lawyer for the woman who is at the center of the case, said Friday that his client is “deeply disappointed” Graham will not be prosecuted and that he is “troubled” Graham is “getting off scot-free.”

The Associated Press generally doesn’t name alleged victims of sexual assault.

The third midshipman involved in the case, Joshua Tate of Nashville, Tenn., still faces charges. Tate’s court-martial, the military’s equivalent of a trial, is scheduled to begin Feb. 10.

Gresko reported from Washington and Witte from Annapolis.

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