NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet accused of entering a classmate’s room and touching her leg will not face a court martial, the academy said Thursday.
Its superintendent agreed with the recommendations of an investigating officer that reasonable grounds did not exist to support the charge of abusive sexual contact against cadet Alexander Stevens. The superintendent, Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz, also agreed with a recommendation to impose nonjudicial punishment on Stevens for unlawfully entering a cadet barracks room while drunk and touching another cadet on the leg, Coast Guard officials said.
The academy did not disclose details of the punishment, citing Stevens’ privacy rights. Nonjudicial punishment may include a reprimand, arrest in quarters for up to 30 days, pay forfeiture or expulsion from the academy.
“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,” said Capt. James McCauley, the commandant of cadets.
In September, Stevens said, he went into the fellow cadet’s room by mistake, believing it was his girlfriend’s room, an investigator testified.
He was drunk at the time and made a mental mistake, Lt. John Cole, who represented Stevens, said during a pretrial investigation at the academy in April.
The classmate testified that a man entered her room in the middle of the night, touched her on her thigh and moved his hand up her leg before she screamed and kicked him. The cadet said she found it hard to sleep and concentrate after the encounter, and her grades suffered.
A government attorney said Stevens was on a mission for sexual gratification. The room Stevens went into was about 300 feet from his girlfriend’s room, Lt. Tyler McGill said, and noted that the classmate was lower in rank.
“Cadet Stevens did not walk into the room right next door,” McGill said.
But the government failed to prove sexual intent, Cole argued.
“Just because he accidentally touched the wrong cadet’s leg doesn’t mean he should go to court martial,” Cole said.
Stevens did not testify.
A conviction in a court martial can lead to prison time.
The only cadet ever court-martialed at the academy, Webster Smith, was tried in 2006 and convicted on extortion, sodomy and indecent assault charges.
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