Male Coast Guard cadet given ‘non-judicial punishment’ on lesser charge for touching female cadet

New London — A male cadet at the Coast Guard Academy who was accused of abusive sexual conduct against a female cadet received “non-judicial punishment” on Thursday for “unlawfully entering a cadet barracks room while drunk and touching another cadet on the leg.”

The punishment was meted out against First Class Cadet Alexander Stevens.

A non-judicial punishment involves a commanding officer imposing punishment on a member of the unit and is a non-adversarial proceeding, said David Santos, communications director for the Academy. The unit commander conducts the hearing. The punishments for this type of punishment include an admonition or letter of reprimand that goes into the cadet’s military file; arrest in quarters for up to

30 days; restriction to base for up to 30 days; forfeiture of half a month’s pay for two months; or disenrollment from the institution, he said.

Santos said he would not reveal the exact punishment and that the case is now closed.

A formal probe, called an Article 32 investigation, began in April.

The investigating officer ultimately “found that reasonable grounds did not exist to support the charge of abusive sexual conduct under Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”

However, the investigative officer, Lt. Cmdr. Cassie Kitchen, recommended that other misconduct revealed during the hearing be addressed through non-judicial punishment.

Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz, the Academy superintendent and the convening authority in this case, with the input of the academy’s Staff Judge Advocate, agreed with the recommendations and imposed the non-judicial punishment on the cadet for “assault consummated by battery, unlawful entry, and drunk and disorderly conduct under Articles 128 and 134 of the UCMJ.”

The Article 32 investigation included a hearing on April 2 in which two different versions were given about the events of last Sept. 15.

In one account, the male cadet, Stevens, entered a female cadet’s room and climbed on a chair to reach the loft-style bed. He put his hand under the blanket and began to touch the woman on the inner thigh. He stopped only when she awoke, yelled and startled him, which caused him to leave the room.

In another account, Stevens admitted he was drunk and mistakenly entered a room that he thought was his girlfriend’s room.

At the hearing, the alleged victim, a third-class cadet, said she thought she heard her roommate open her door but then her bed started to shake and someone began fumbling with her blanket.

“I saw a silhouette of a man and kicked my legs and screamed,” she testified. “I asked, ‘Who are you?’”

She said he fled the room and she chased after him but he was gone.

Somewhat later in the hallway she said she saw someone who resembled the suspect, who was identified as Stevens.

Counsel for the defense Lt. John Cole questioned whether the female cadet could really identify Stevens because it had been dark. She said she could make out his silhouette.

Stevens did not testify at the hearing. A special agent in the Coast Guard Investigative Services, Eric Gempp said Stevens had admitted to being drunk and entering a room he thought was his girlfriend’s room.

Stevens said he left quickly when he realized he was in the wrong room.

The counsel representing the government argued that Stevens was on a mission for sexual gratification and had taken advantage of a classmate below his rank. The counsel also said the room he entered was 300 feet from his girlfriend’s room.

The defense argued that the government had not proven sexual intent and said that Stevens made a “mental mistake” because he was drunk.

“Throughout this entire process the Academy has remained committed to providing all needed support to the victim, ensuring a full and fair proceeding in compliance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice and holding those who commit misconduct accountable for their actions in the interest of good order and discipline” said the commandant of cadets, Capt. James McCauley.

The only cadet ever court-martialed at the Coast Guard Academy was tried on sexual assault charges in 2006. Webster M. Smith was convicted on extortion, sodomy and indecent-assault charges and acquitted of rape.

j.somers@theday.com

 

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