Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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April 3, 2014

Coast Guard cadet accused of touching classmate

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) — A U.S Coast Guard Academy cadet should face a court martial for entering the room of a classmate and touching her leg, a government attorney said Wednesday, rejecting defense claims that the cadet accidentally went into what he thought was his girlfriend's room.

Cadet Alexander Stevens was on a mission for sexual gratification that September night, Lt. Tyler McGill said during a pretrial investigation at the academy. The room Stevens entered was about 300 feet from his girlfriend's room, McGill said, and noted that the classmate was lower in rank.

"Cadet Stevens did not walk into the room right next door," McGill said.

Lt. John Cole, who represented Stevens, said the government didn't prove sexual intent. He said Stevens was drunk at the time and made a mental mistake.

"Just because he accidentally touched the wrong cadet's leg doesn't mean he should go to court martial," Cole said.

Cole said Stevens should face administrative punishment, which can include expulsion. A court martial can lead to prison time if the person is convicted.

The pretrial investigation, similar to a civilian grand jury, will determine how to dispose of the case. An investigating officer presiding over Wednesday's hearing made no immediate recommendation. The officer could recommend that the case be dismissed, dealt with administratively or referred for trial by court-martial.

Stevens, who is accused of abusive sexual contact, housebreaking and unlawful entry, did not testify.

The classmate testified that a man entered her room in the middle of the night, touched her on her thigh and moved his hand up her leg before she screamed and kicked him.

"I remember someone fumbling with my blanket that was on top of me and touching my leg," she said, describing skin-to-skin contact and the swirling motion of a hand moving up her leg. "I kicked my legs and I screamed."

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