Former Instructor Gets Jail as New Assault Charges Hit Naval Academy

Marine Major Mark Thompson, a former U.S. Naval Academy instructor, was sentenced to 60 days in jail and a $60,000 fine after being convicted last week of committing indecent acts, fraternization, and conduct unbecoming an officer. Thompson's crimes are related to a 2011 incident in which two female midshipmen accompanied Thompson to his home after drinking alcohol and attending a croquet match between the academy and St. John's College. One of the women would later say Thompson assaulted her.

The officer's sentencing comes on the heels of Navy authorities investigating another recent sexual-assault charge, this one leveled against three Navy football players who stand accused of gang raping a sophomore at an Annapolis residence known as "the football house." The alleged attack took place in April of last year, but the initial investigation was hampered when the woman failed to cooperate with authorities. She would later say a culture of peer pressure and intimidation worried her into silence, according to the New York Times:

In the weeks after the party, the woman said, one player approached her, saying he wanted her to remain quiet. She said she heard the same thing from other people who were in contact with the football players.

"This was a common message I heard over and over again," she said. "They would say that the guys are saying that me not talking had kept the peace."

Kenyon Williams, a midshipman and a friend of the woman, said she had to deal with subtle intimidation. "The football team sits together in the dining hall, and we would have to walk past them to go to dinner, and sometimes they would stare at her," he said.

The Times reports that when the woman finally came forth to say she was raped, she faced disciplinary action for underage drinking while the football players were allowed to play their season. Academy officials told the paper the players' athletic schedules went uninterrupted "because no charges had been brought in the case and they were accorded the presumption of innocence as a result."

The Naval Academy's assault investigation is merely the latest in a recent string of high-profile sexual-assault cases in the armed forces, all of which do nothing to help the military's reputation as being a place where rape and other sexual attacks are allowed to run rampant.

[Image via AP]