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Annapolis, Md. - The U.S. Naval Academy on Wednesday charged three football players with sexually assaulting a female midshipman at an off-campus house in Annapolis more than a year ago, a case that has brought renewed focus to how the nation's military academies handle reports of sexual assaults.
The academy said in a news release that the male midshipmen are being charged with two violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. One involves rape, sexual assault or other sexual misconduct. The other is for making a false official statement.
The academy did not identify the three students.
Two of the students were football players this past season, but they are not on the team anymore. Another is still on the team, but he has been suspended pending the outcome of the case.
The alleged assault occurred in April 2012. The woman's attorney, Susan Burke, has said the woman woke up with bruises after a night of heavy drinking and later learned from friends and social media that three football players she considered friends were claiming to have had sex with her while she was intoxicated and blacked out.
The case comes as a string of sexual assault cases in the military has drawn attention and criticism in Congress, the Pentagon and the White House. Many of the assault cases involve alcohol, the military has said.
President Barack Obama talked about the sexual assault problem when he spoke at the academy's commissioning ceremony last month. The president said those who commit sexual assault threaten the trust and discipline that makes the military strong.
U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski wrote to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that she is "deeply troubled by the lackluster response from the superintendents to increasing rates of sexual assault within their academies."
Mikulski, D-Md., is a member of the U.S. Naval Academy's Board of Visitors, which acts as a board of trustees for the Annapolis military college.
"If we are going to end sexual assault in the military, we must start by changing the culture in the service academies where future leaders are created," Mikulski wrote.
Other Navy football players have faced assault allegations in the past.
In 2006, Lamar Owens Jr., the team's starting quarterback, was acquitted of rape but found guilty of lesser charges. He was expelled from the school. Another one-time member of the team, Kenny Ray Morrison, was convicted in 2007 of sexually assaulting a female classmate at a Washington hotel. He was sentenced to two years in the Navy brig.