THE UNJUST CASE AGAINST MIDSHIPMAN 1ST CLASS LAMAR OWENS
AT THE U.S. NAVAL ACADEMY
* Midshipman 1st Class Lamar Owens, an African American college student from Savannah, GA, was formerly the starting quarterback and team captain on the 2005 U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) football team. In mid-2006, Owens was fully acquitted by a military jury at a General Court Martial (GCM) on charges that he raped a white female midshipman earlier in the year. The interchange between Owens and the accuser was deemed to be consensual during the resulting trial.
* Despite the fact that these charges were wrongfully brought against Owens, he was still convicted of two lesser offenses (conduct unbecoming an officer for having consensual sex in the academy's dormitory and disobeying a lawful order when he allegedly violated a Military Protective Order (MPO)). The judge in the case likened the MPO violation to a "parking ticket."
* At the time, jurors in the case recommended that Owens receive no punishment, a conclusion that was upheld upon a formal review by a Navy admiral. Many testified during the GCM to Owens' outstanding leadership and record as a good student.
* However, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), because the proceedings were held as a GCM instead of a Special Court Martial (SCM), the convictions are considered felony offenses and will appear permanently on Owens civilian record - meaning, he can never vote in an election or assume an active place in American society for the remainder of his life.
* The travesty of this situation is that these infractions would never have been considered felonies, and therefore referred to a GCM, if the false accusations against Owens were not made.
* This is only time in USNA history that a midshipman has faced a GCM for consensual sex. At the GCM, a Navy lawyer testified that no other midshipman has ever been convicted of rape at a court martial and untold numbers of midshipmen have graduated and been commissioned in the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps after having been caught having sex in the USNA dormitory.
* Meanwhile, the Accuser was given full criminal and administrative immunity for: (i) sex in the dormitory, (ii) under aged drinking, (iii) drinking in the dormitory, (iv) signing-in for bed check then leaving campus, (v) renting an off campus apartment. Each of these offenses is punishable up to expulsion from USNA. Despite their own testimony about under aged drinking and numerous other violations of Academy rules, no legal or administrative action has been taken against any of the other female midshipmen who testified.
* Some members of the Judge Advocate General Corps felt this immunity was totally unnecessary in this case and questioned the need for it.
* During the Accuser's early testimony, the trial judge stopped the trial proceedings to warn the Accuser of the importance of telling the truth. He counseled the Accuser that her immunity from administrative charges would be removed if she lied.
* During the GCM, there was forensic evidence and testimony that the incident with Owens was not the first or only time the Accuser had sex in the USNA dormitory. The Rape Shield law kept this evidence away from the jury but it is part of the legal and administrative record and has great bearing on whether it is fair to expel Owens for this single incident of consensual sex with the Accuser.
* Unbelievably, the accuser will be allowed to graduate and be commissioned despite her known checkered conduct record at USNA. In fact, she currently holds a very prominent leadership position within the student body at the Academy.
* Owens was expected to graduate in May 2006, but remains a midshipman due the failure of the U.S. Naval Academy to take appropriate action to conclude this case since the acquittal. During this time, they have embarked on a very direct campaign of harassment and intimidation to try to force Owens to resign from the Academy.
* Since the GCM, USNA has tried repeatedly to get Owens to resign. Those close to the case have surmised that the long delay since the GCM was designed to put pressure on Owens by isolating him from his friends (he was banned from the USNA campus and forced to work a desk job at the Washington Navy Yard - about 40 miles away from campus - while the media attention died down).
* Before Owens was afforded the benefit of due process under official military law, the USNA Superintendent, VADM Rodney Rempt, wrongly used the UCMJ process and his own high profile position to exact punishment on Owens, pre-trial and post-trial.
* A GCM was chosen to try the case, instead of a SCM, which historically is the manner in which similar cases at USNA had been adjudicated. Hence, the superintendent knew that if Owens was convicted of any offense at a GCM, he would be subject to felony charges - even for much lesser offenses than the alleged sexual assault.
* Superintendent Rempt forwarded a letter to the staff at the Academy from whom he would select jurors. The judge in Owens' trial felt the letter was highly prejudicial against Midshipman Owens and formally rebuked the Superintendent. The Superintendent also discussed the case openly with USNA Alumni Chapters prior to the trial, at which he was the Convening Authority - a highly prejudicial action, considering his major role in the outcome of this trial.
* USNA's investigative team immediately seized the computer of Midshipman Owens, but allowed the Accuser to retain her computer for three to four weeks - ample time to erase her Instant Messages to Owens that invited him to her room to engage in consensual sex and thereby removing any damaging information about her character.
* These same investigators did not deliver the Accuser's hard drive to Owens' legal defense team until the final two days of the trial, hindering their ability to collect and present relevant information.
* Following the GCM, the superintendent appeared to lack objectivity and was publicly guilty of disregarding the findings of the GCM jury.
* While attending a dinner with USNA Alumni four days after the acquittal, he continued to refer to the Accuser as a "victim" and openly described Owens as "guilty" of sexual assault. When asked whether Owens would graduate and receive his commission since he was found not guilty of sexual assault, Rempt replied, "I don't think so. The victim lay in the fetal position for two to three days after he sexually assaulted her." Things he told them about the Accuser are contradicted by her own testimony at trial. Their signed affidavits are part of the record.
* Furthermore, the Superintendent quietly described Mr. Owens as a "black rabble rouser" to certain participants at this alumni event. Those participants who heard the comment have also signed an affidavit attesting to this.
* Superintendent Rempt's decisions were based not on the examination of the facts, but instead on political considerations and perceived racial bias. When asked why he took the case to General Court Martial, he is said to have stated, "I had no choice. If I did not we would have every feminist group and the ACLU after us."
* USNA has never published fact that in Spring 2006, Owens offered his resignation in exchange for not being forced to submit to a GCM, since there was no precedent in the history of the Academy which required such a significant forum to adjudicate the outcome of a case like this.
* Superintendent Rempt rejected this offer outright at the time, but nine months later, in a complete reversal on his previous decision, he offered to vacate the two guilty verdicts on the lesser offenses if Owens resigned.
* The Superintendent recommended that Owens be separated from the Academy and he was given five days to offer a rebuttal for consideration by the Office of the Secretary of the Navy, which is where the matter goes next for a final decision.
* According to his lawyers, Midshipman Owens intends to appeal the recommendation to the Secretary of the Navy, as he continues to believe that the punishment and public scorn he has received to date, has been highly inappropriate with respect to a totally false accusation for which he was fully acquitted.
* The Superintendent's unwavering support of the Accuser, despite her lies and repeated conduct and character violations is only damped by his failure to admit to his own fault in pursuing false rape allegations against Midshipman Owens. As the Academy's senior leader, it was his responsibility to bring the Academy community together after the verdict of NOT GUILTY, yet his actions and perceived personal biases have done nothing but cause deeper fissures in an already fragile Naval Academy community.
* There is major concern that the Superintendent's handling of this case has divided the Naval Academy community along lines of gender and race and even turned some people against the successful Navy football program. A large and very diverse group of USNA Alumni and other supporters have banded together to shed some light on the callous and negligent manner in which this case has been handled. Their intent is to share the facts of the case with key influencers across the country and rally support to help ensure that a situation of this type never occurs again at the U.S. Naval Academy.
* The group's concerns are broader than Midshipman Owens. The actions of Superintendent Rempt and other USNA leaders speak directly to their attitude regarding minority midshipmen and their perceived bias against males who are suspects in the investigation of alleged sex crimes against females. By catering to public pressure and women groups, at any cost, Midshipman Owens has suffered an egregious and unprecedented injustice.