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Naval Academy rape accuser forced to confront past actions in weekend testimony

U.S. Navy Football via AP

Midshipmen Tra'ves Bush, Eric Graham and Josh Tate. A hearing has begun to determine whether the three men will face a court-martial on charges that they sexually assaulted a female midshipman.

Having been denied a request to halt her testimony until Monday, the female midshipman who accused three fellow Naval Academy students of sexual assault continued to be cross-examined by the three men's defense lawyers on Sunday.

During questioning by Lt. Commander Angela Tang, counsel for Midshipman Eric Graham, the accuser acknowledged that her current boyfriend had contacted one of her fellow midshipmen who is scheduled to be called as a witness later during the preliminary military hearing.

She also said that she had in fact disabled her Twitter account shortly after special agents from the Navy Criminal Investigative Service [NCIS] inquired about some of her tweets after the alleged April 14, 2012 attack, which referred to the accuser's sore back and a declaration that the "gloves are coming off."

The woman contended that disabling her Twitter account was not an attempt to "destroy evidence," as Tang suggested.

"Absolutely not," the woman said.

She added that the reference to "gloves coming off" was not directed towards her alleged attackers but rather was "me standing up for myself to everyone who was harassing me," including other midshipmen who were not directly involved in the investigation.

During cross examination with defense counsel for her third alleged attacker, Joshua Tate, the alleged victim was asked to listen once again to a recording, played once before earlier in the week, of a phone call between Tate and her in which she asks him to tell investigators that "nothing happened" the nit of the alleged attack.

The woman explained that she had asked Tate "to lie" at the time because she did not, at that point, want the investigation into the incident to proceed.

She later decided to cooperate with investigators.

During the recording, Tate is heard responding to the woman that "that s--t ain't cool."

But the woman said that Tate had not been referring to her request for him to lie to investigators. 

"You can play it as many times as you want," the woman told Tate's lawyer, adding that she believed Tate had been referring to another matter that had not been part of their phone conversation.

Tate had also, the woman revealed under examination, that Tate had, around the same time, asked her to lie to his girlfriend and tell her they had not had sex. 

Asked to indicate whether she believed she had at that time been lying, given that the woman has said she does not remember having intercourse with any of the three men, she said that "from the knowledge I received from Mr. Tate, I had reason to believe we had sex." 

But in a new development that complicates the back-and-forth of the woman's conversations with Tate, she also disclosed to Tate's lawyer that during a recorded "pretext call" to Tate in the course of the investigation, he had told the woman that he had not, in fact, had sex with her and had only said so "because everyone else was saying he had."

"He was lying to me the whole time," she said, referring as far back as the day after the alleged attack, when she said Tate had visited her dorm room and said that if she didn't remember having sex, he would have to "remind her" some time.

The woman also revealed that she had been to a party on a friend's speedboat the summer immediately following the alleged attack, in which Tate and his girlfriend were also in attendance. 

Although the woman said she indicated by her body language that she did not want to associate with either of the two, Tate had sat down with her in the booth area of the boat and asked her, "why can't we be friends?" 

The woman said she responded that they had not been friends in the first place and had no reason to start now.

Also on Sunday, Cmdr. Robert Monahan, the military officer presiding over the case, agreed to limit the accuser spends in the witness stand to between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. — or no more than nine hours in a day — after lawyers complained she was exhausted and couldn't give clear and accurate testimony.

The woman, a Naval Academy senior, had been questioned on the witness stand, with periodic breaks, by defense attorneys for more than 20 hours since Wednesday afternoon. One hearing lasted more than 12 hours.

Reuters contributed to this report.