By Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun
5:34 PM CDT, September 30, 2011
A former Naval Academy midshipman was sentenced to six months in military prison and dismissed from the Navy on Thursday after he was convicted of raping a female classmate.
Midshipman 3rd Class Patrick Edmond, 20, was found guilty of raping the female midshipman in her dorm room last October and of lying to military officials. The native of Jackson, Miss., was dismissed from the academy after a seven-member military panel handed down its verdict. He was attending classes at the academy until the conviction.
Edmond was found not guilty of sodomy at the court-martial hearing, held at the Washington Navy Yard from Monday through Wednesday.
The court-martial for sexual assault was the first at the academy since 2008. The institution endured a series of high-profile assault cases in the mid-2000s and, in response, bolstered programs to promote awareness and to train midshipmen on how to report sex-related crimes.
Reports of sexual assaults were up at the academy in 2009-2010, according to an annual report released in December under a congressional mandate. The report, based on a voluntary survey, said alleged assaults at the academy increased from eight in 2008-2009 to 11 in 2009-2010. Many assault allegations never lead to a court-martial because evidence is deemed insufficient.
The report, which also covered the Air Force Academy and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, found that 56 percent of female cadets and midshipmen reported some form of sexual harassment in the previous year.
Prosecutors said Edmond exploited a previous romance with the female midshipman to trap her and force her into sex. Defense attorneys, by contrast, portrayed the sex as consensual.
"The military holds its service members to the highest standards of personal accountability," said academy spokesman William Marks in a statement regarding the Edmond case. "The military justice process is fair, impartial and deliberate — we support the findings of the jury. The Navy has zero tolerance for sexual assault."
Edmond will serve his six-month sentence at a Navy brig in Norfolk, Va., where he has already been taken.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.