After a week of testimony, a preliminary rape hearing by the US Naval Academy is expected to end today. After the hearing, presiding officer Commander Robert Monahan will make a recommendation to the academy superintendent on whether the case will go to a general court-martial. The decision may take one to two weeks.

Three Naval Academy football players are charged with raping a female midshipman in April 2012 when she was intoxicated at an off-campus party in Annapolis, Maryland. The victim says she did not know what happened until she learned about the assault from friends and posts on social media. The three men are also being charged with making false statements.

The victim has given 20 hours of testimony, including responding to questions by defense attorneys about her clothing and behavior on the night of the rape. The victim’s attorney, Susan Burke, is a leading attorney-advocate against military sexual assault. On the stand, Burke said about her client, “I want to sound the alarm. The Naval Academy did not do an adequate job of protecting her.”

The case takes place as the military faces increased pressure to improve the way it deals with sexual harassment and assault. About 26,000 service members said they received unwanted sexual contact last year, but only 3,374 incidents were reported, according to the Defense Department.

Media Resources: Reuters 9/3/2013; Washington Post 9/2/2013.

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