- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 8, 2004

ANNAPOLIS — A U.S. Naval Academy midshipman has filed suit against a female classmate and is seeking $20,000 in damages after charging the woman assaulted him on academy grounds in September.

In a lawsuit filed Dec. 2 with the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, William B. Campbell accuses Ariana Downs of “punching, hitting and striking” him with her fist, hands and arms on Sept. 25.

According to the lawsuit, the attack was “wholly unprovoked and unwarranted.” Midshipman Campbell says he suffered from “mental and emotional shock and distress” as a result of the beating.

Midshipman Downs, a former varsity soccer player at the academy and the University of California at Irvine, is from Auburn, Wash. Her father, John Downs, declined to comment on the details of the case, but disputed Midshipman Campbell’s claims.

“It wasn’t unprovoked, it was a provoked attack,” Mr. Downs said. “And actually I wouldn’t say it was an attack. It was [in] defense.”

Calls to Midshipman Campbell and Midshipman Downs at their dormitory, Bancroft Hall, were not returned.

Naval Academy officials refused to discuss the case, but said the incident is being investigated.

“We do not comment on matters under investigation,” said Deborah Good, an academy spokeswoman.

Thomas McCarthy Jr., an Annapolis attorney representing Midshipman Campbell, said the case was “simply a dispute between two people” and that it is very likely the case will be settled out of court.

“This doesn’t have anything to do with the academy, and there’s no real mechanism in the academy to take care of this sort of issue,” Mr. McCarthy said. “This was the appropriate forum to address this in.”

Mr. McCarthy said he and his client considered the long-term implications of one midshipman suing another before filing the complaint. He said the nature of the case caused him to file the complaint in a civilian court.

“You could file charges against someone else [with the academy] but then it’s out of your control,” he said. “It doesn’t do anything as far as compensating a midshipman.”

Mr. McCarthy also said taking the case to the academy could harm an officer’s career.

“All disciplinary action has a potential impact on your career, it doesn’t matter how minor it is,” he said.

Bob Brewer, a Navy alumnus and vice president of the academy’s Dulles alumni chapter, said he heard about the case on the radio and was surprised to hear it ended up in civilian court.

“There’s a whole disciplinary infrastructure set up at the academy,” said Mr. Brewer, 51. “So without knowing anything else it would seem to me he brought it to the system and the system didn’t satisfy him, so he’s trying something else.”

Mr. Brewer, who attended the academy from 1971-75, said the incident should have been handled internally at the academy.

“In a perfect world, I think there are other ways to solve it keeping it in the confines of the naval yard,” he said. “It sounds like grandstanding to me, but I don’t know anything about the case.”

No date has been set for the case to appear in court. Mr. McCarthy estimated it could be 90 days before the issue is resolved.

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