- The Washington Times - Monday, April 9, 2007

A Naval Academy midshipman was found guilty yesterday of sexually assaulting a female midshipman at a D.C. hotel last year.

The jury of six male and one female officers from the Navy and Marine Corps deliberated for three hours before reaching a verdict on Midshipman Kenny Ray Morrison, 24, from Kingwood, Texas. The sentencing phase of the court-martial case is expected to resume today. Morrison, a former reserve linebacker on the school football team, faces 10 years in prison, dismissal from the academy and forfeiture of pay.

The defendant testified last week about several sexual encounters with the woman after a night of drinking in February 2006 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Northwest.He said that the three sex acts were consensual and that she asked whether he had a condom.

“I said, ‘I didn’t. I’ll be safe. Is that OK?’ And she said, ‘Yes,’ ” he testified.

However, the female midshipman said she did not agree to have sex with him.

The official charges on which Morrison was found guilty were indecent assault and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.

During Morrison’s 45 minutes of testimony in the case, he did not talk about a purported sexual encounter in April 2006 with another female midshipman, who is now a Marine second lieutenant.

The jury found him not guilty of sexually assaulting her. The female complainant testified last week that she could not remember details after accepting a beer from Morrison in an Annapolis bar nine hours before she woke up naked beside him in an apartment.

Morrison quivered slightly as the verdict was read while he stood at attention behind the defense table, staring straight ahead, his fists clenched, his chest out.

The two women held hands in a back bench of the small courtroom at the Washington Navy Yard as the verdict was read.

Courts-martial have different rules than civilian courts. Officers said yesterday that only four of the seven jurors were needed to vote for a guilty verdict. Also, the judge, Marine Col. Steven Day, told the jury that it could reconsider its verdict if four members voted for “reconsideration.”

As the trial began, the Naval Academy said that it “seeks to develop midshipmen morally, mentally and physically to become combat leaders of the highest character” and that “the Navy does not tolerate sexual harassment, misconduct or assault.”

The academy has declined to comment on the case until the sentencing phase is complete.

Last year, former football quarterback Midshipman Lamar Owens was acquitted of rape charges, but found guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer.

The secretary of the Navy is reviewing a recommendation from Vice Adm. Rodney P. Rempt, the academy’s superintendent, that Owens be expelled without graduating or receiving his officer commission.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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