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Former Midshipman Pleads Guilty to Sexually Abusing 2-Year-Old Girl

August 13, 1996

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) _ A former Naval Academy midshipman admitted he molested the 2-year-old granddaughter of a couple who allowed him into their home as part of the academy’s hospitality program.

Jeremy Michael Coale pleaded guilty to sexual abuse Monday and faces up to 15 years in prison. Sentencing was set for Sept. 30.

Coale, 20, stood with his head down while his plea was entered and declined to comment as he left the courtroom. His lawyer, Christopher Drewniak, said Coale is humiliated and ``extremely sorry.″

As a 12-year-old growing up in East Grand Rapids, Mich., Coale was arrested on a sexual abuse charge in 1988, but never was prosecuted. The mother of a 4-year-old girl told police she found Coale lying on top of her daughter on a bedroom floor.

The academy did not learn of the allegations until Annapolis police arrested Coale this spring. He never disclosed the arrest, as required, on his admission application, the academy said.

Coale entered the academy in September 1995 and spent weekends at the Eastport home of a couple volunteering in a program to give midshipmen a home away from home.

On March 24, Coale went into their granddaughter’s bedroom, disrobed her and abused her, prosecutor Laura Kiessling said. At dinner the next night, the child told her mother what happened.

Coale resigned from the academy after his arrest.

Coale is the second former midshipman in recent months to plead guilty to child sexual abuse. Patrick Michael Chapman, 25, a one-time leader of the academy’s Big Brothers & Big Sisters program, was sentenced in June to four years in prison for exposing himself and sexually molesting a 13-year-old boy in Chapman’s hometown of Rockwall, Texas.

The sexual misconduct charges was part of a series of alleged wrongdoing by midshipmen during the past year that included a drug scandal, a car theft ring and breaking and entering charges.

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