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Naval Academy files sex assault charges against three football players

Three male Naval Academy midshipmen have been charged with allegedly sexually assaulting a female midshipman last year and with making a false official statement.

The woman told investigators that she was assaulted by the men — all Academy football players at the time — at an off-campus party in April 2012. 

On Wednesday, the academy announced the accused men were charged with making a false official statement and with rape, sexual assault, and other sexual misconduct. 

"Midshipmen, like other members of the military, are subject to military law contained in the UCMJ [Uniform Code of Military Justice], a federal statute. These charges are accusations, and the accused midshipmen are presumed innocent until proven guilty," Commander John Schofield, a spokesman for the academy, said.


The woman initially reported the incident in 2012, and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service immediately launched an investigation, sources told NBC News. But the woman essentially withdrew her complaint when she stopped cooperating with investigators, and the probe was halted.

Then, in February 2013, she renewed her complaint, and the investigation continued. 

Sources said the woman knew the men and considered them friends, but during a night of heavy drinking the three allegedly had non-consensual sex with her at different times.

The woman's lawyer, Susan Burke, has told NBC News that her client was "ostracized" for the accusations, and that the incident was "widely known at the Naval Academy." 

Burke has been critical of the Academy for how they have handled the investigation, saying that said her client was disciplined for drinking while the alleged attackers went unpunished for more than one year. 

One of the accused had his graduation put on hold while the investigation was still pending. 

The other two are juniors at the Annapolis, Md., academy.

NBC's Andrew Rafferty contributed to this report.