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Ex-Navy QB Acquitted of Rape Charge

July 21, 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A former U.S. Naval Academy quarterback was cleared of raping a female midshipman in her dorm room, but still could face prison time after being convicted of two lesser charges.

Lamar S. Owens Jr. was convicted Thursday of conduct unbecoming an officer and disobeying a lawful order. At his sentencing Friday, he could face two years of jail time and being kicked out of the service.

Cmdr. John Maksym, who presided over the trial, also will consider whether to set aside either of the charges. During the trial, the judge chastised prosecutors for what he called ``the anemic nature″ of their witnesses.

``Everyone’s reaction is relief,″ said Reid Weingarten, Owens’ civilian defense counsel. ``There is no evidence that Lamar Owens raped this woman.″

Owens, standing at attention as the verdicts were read Thursday, showed no emotion. He remains free without bond. He was not allowed to graduate or receive a commission in May, and remains a midshipman.

Prosecutors recommended a sentence of two years on the conduct unbecoming charge; Maksym tabled discussion of a sentence on the second charge until Friday.

Owens, 22, of Savannah, Ga., was charged in connection with an incident that occurred in the room of a female midshipman at an academy dorm on Jan. 29. Owens testified that the sexual encounter was consensual; his accuser testified that she repeatedly rejected his advances.

Both Owens and his accuser testified that they had several drinks at separate locations in Baltimore and Annapolis in the hours before, but other witnesses have said the young woman was seen having as many as nine drinks at a restaurant and later at an Annapolis bar favored by midshipmen.

``They have determined, obviously, that the consensual act took place,″ Cmdr. John Maksym, the judge, said, adding that the jury found that Owens ``wrongfully entered the room without permission and wrongfully engaged in consensual sex.″

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