Sexual assault is one of the most vilified crimes in American law books,
and as such it is always vigorously investigated and prosecuted. In all
the controversy, though, it is important to remember the rights of the
defendant — specifically, the right to fair trial that thoroughly
examines and weighs the verified facts of the case. The punishments for
sex crimes are very high in Maryland; as such, it is important that all cases be carefully
considered to ensure that all sentences are appropriate for the crime.
This is apparently the intent for defense attorneys currently involved
in a sexual assault trial. The case revolves around four U.S. Naval Academy
midshipmen who attended a party in April 2012. Three midshipmen are accused
of sexually assaulting a fourth while she was intoxicated.
Cases like this are, unfortunately, not uncommon. When college students
have had too much to drink, it can be very difficult to verify accounts
of the night in question. Witnesses will have conflicting opinions about
key facts, such as the intoxication levels of the accused. Accounts will
also differ in terms of the level of consent given to the participants.
Much of the witness testimony in this case is apparently conflicting. Perhaps
for this reason, defense attorneys have questioned the female midshipmen
for an unusually long period of time — over 20 hours. Questions
were wide-ranging, covering the events of the night of the party, the
woman’s past history with the accused, and a Twitter account that
the woman deleted after the night in question. The rigorous questioning
has gone on for so long that the judge ordered attorneys to limit their
examination to a certain number of hours each day, and offer periodic
breaks for the witness.
The Baltimore Sun, “Academy sex assault case sets limit on length accuser must testify” Lacey Johnson, Sep. 01, 2013