- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 9, 2006

A Naval Academy official yesterday suspended a preliminary hearing on sexual-assault charges against the school’s star quarterback after evidence showed he also might have violated military orders on avoiding his accuser and downloading pornography.

Cmdr. Jeffrey Fischer ended the hearing for Lamar S. Owens Jr. at the Washington Navy Yard after a day and half of testimony and said it will resume April 3.

Midshipman Owens, 22, is accused of rape, indecent assault and conduct unbecoming to an officer, in connection with an early morning encounter with a female classmate Jan. 29 inside their Bancroft Hall dormitory.

New accusations emerged Wednesday when investigator Michelle Robinson said 700 pornographic images were found on a computer confiscated from Midshipman Owens.

Yesterday, Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Frommelt said he spotted Midshipman Owens walking past the supposed victim’s room Feb. 15 while she was inside, despite being ordered six days earlier to avoid her.

Cmdr. Frommelt said he told Midshipman Owens that he was not taking the most direct route from lunch to his room.

“As soon as I saw him, I couldn’t believe he was on the deck,” he said.

Cmdr. Fischer will report the findings to the academy’s superintendent, Vice Adm. Rodney Rempt, who could order a court-martial for Midshipman Owens, a senior from Savannah, Ga.

Steven Wroble, the midshipman’s civilian attorney, said further investigation might help Midshipman Owens’ case because military officials would receive a report on his account of the incident.

The supposed victim testified that she and friends had been drinking at an Annapolis bar before returning to the dorm and falling into a restless, drunken sleep on her bunk bed. She said she awoke about 4:15 a.m. to find Midshipman Owens, whom she barely knew, standing beside her.

“He tried to kiss me on the mouth,” the 20-year-old woman testified. “I closed my mouth … because I wanted him to stop. I told him I had a boyfriend. Next thing I remember … he was having sex with me.”

She also testified to helping academy investigators secretly tape Midshipmen Owens’ apparent admission of the assault.

“I didn’t do it for that long,” she said, quoting Midshipman Owens from the tape.

However, she also acknowledged a spotty memory of the encounter and that she might have consented to having sex with Midshipman Owens, the team’s starting quarterback last season.

The case is the latest of reported sexual scandals that have brought the U.S. military academies under scrutiny since 2001. In 2003, several women at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado said they had been sexually assaulted by fellow cadets and were ignored or scolded by commanders when they reported the incidents.

A Pentagon task force subsequently reported finding hostile attitudes and inappropriate treatment of women at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and at the Naval Academy.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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