- Associated Press - Thursday, March 20, 2014

WASHINGTON — A military judge found a former U.S. Naval Academy football player not guilty of a sexual assault charge Thursday at the conclusion of a three-day trial.

The judge, Col. Daniel Daugherty, on Thursday acquitted Joshua Tate of Nashville, Tenn., of one count of aggravated sexual assault. Tate chose to be tried by a judge rather than a military jury. During the trial, prosecutors argued that the woman Tate was accused of assaulting, a Naval Academy classmate, was too drunk to consent to sexual activity. Tate’s attorneys disagreed.

More than a dozen witnesses testified at Tate’s trial. That included Tate’s classmate who testified for more than five hours and said she didn’t remember being sexually assaulted after a night of heavy drinking but heard from others she had had sex with multiple partners at the party. She said she confronted Tate, who confirmed they’d had sex.

Prosecutors initially accused not only Tate but also two other students, both of them former football players, of sexually assaulting the woman during a 2012 party at an off-campus house in Annapolis, Md., where the school is located. Tate was the only student ultimately brought to court-martial, the military’s equivalent of a trial.

The head of the Naval Academy decided not to go forward with courts martial for the other two students, Tra’ves Bush of Johnston, S.C., and Eric Graham of Eight Mile, Ala. The military held an Article 32 hearing, which resembles a preliminary hearing in civilian court, in August and September of 2013. Following that hearing, the academy’s head, Vice Admiral Michael H. Miller, decided in October not to pursue charges against Bush.

Charges against Graham were dropped in January. Prosecutors had recommended that move after a military judge said statements Graham made during an investigation would not be admissible during a military trial.

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