- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy has recommended that former quarterback Lamar Owens Jr. be dismissed for infractions that led to his court-martial for rape, even though a military jury cleared him of the rape charge, the midshipman’s attorney said yesterday.

Vice Adm. Rodney Rempt concluded that Midshipman Owens should be punished for “unsatisfactory conduct,” attorney Reid Weingarten said. Midshipman Owens, who was expected to graduate last spring but remains a midshipman because of the court case, would not graduate or receive a commission under the ruling. However, he would not have to repay roughly $130,000 for the cost of his education.

Mr. Weingarten said Midshipman Owens planned to appeal the recommendation to the secretary of the Navy, who will review Adm. Rempt’s proposal and make a final decision.

“Lamar is a mature, responsible ‘leader of leaders’ who should have a brilliant future in our armed forces,” Mr. Weingarten said.

“His ‘misconduct’ consisted of a few minutes of poor judgment in a dorm room.”

The academy said Adm. Rempt met with Midshipman Owens “to assess his future” and that he would forward a recommendation to the secretary of the Navy “shortly.”

Midshipman Owens, of Savannah, Ga., led Navy to an 8-4 record during his senior year in 2005, which included a victory over Army and a win over Colorado State in the Poinsettia Bowl.

Navy prosecutors charged him with rape early last year, saying he entered the room of a female midshipman and had sex with her against her will on Jan. 29, 2006. The woman testified that she tried to resist. Midshipman Owens told a military jury that the sex was consensual. The woman’s memory was spotty; she said she drank heavily that night and blacked out several times.

The jury of five members found Midshipman Owens not guilty of rape but convicted him of two lesser charges: conduct unbecoming an officer and disobeying a lawful order. Jurors recommended no punishment, a conclusion upheld last month by an admiral reviewing the case.

However, Midshipman Owens still was eligible for administrative discipline for breaking rules that include a prohibition against having sex in an academy dorm.

Mr. Weingarten chastised the Navy for giving immunity to the woman and other witnesses, who admitted to breaking academy policy by drinking underage and renting off-campus apartments.

However, Adm. Rempt did note Midshipman Owens’ “exemplary behavior” during the legal case and his “outstanding contributions” to the football team, Mr. Weingarten said.

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